Denmark welcome Belgium to the Parken Stadium on Saturday on what is, remarkably, the first competitive meeting between the two nations in 25 years.
The Belgians head to Copenhagen looking imperiously strong, with both captain Eden Hazard and vice-captain Kevin De Bruyne travelling as part of the 25-man squad.
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The two had rather contrasting individual seasons though. De Bruyne, who may miss Saturday’s game due to the birth of his third child, excelled yet again on his way to equalling Thierry Henry’s long-standing Premier League Assist record. The midfield maestro notched 20 assists in 32 starts for Manchester City, on his way to being named EA Sports Premier League Player of the Season.
Hazard, on the other hand, struggled to make his mark on La Liga in what was an injury burdened year. Ederzinho, as he is referred to by teammates, joined Real Madrid for a whopping £103.5m in last summer’s transfer window, but missed 27 games with 5 different injuries – scoring just once, in a 4-2 victory over Granada.
Roberto Martinez has a strong side to pick from though, even without the inclusions of Divock Origi (unfit), Christian Benteke and Michy Batshuayi. Instead, he has handed maiden call-ups to Anderlecht duo Landry Dimata and Jeremy Doku, as well as uncapped Brighton forward Leandro Trossard.
Where they do look a little light however, is in defence. Both Dedryck Boyata and Elias Cobbaut have dropped out of the squad, whilst former Barcelona centre-back Thomas Vermaelen was not able to travel back from Japan for the fixtures.
That could prove to be a problem against a side like Denmark, who haven’t lost at home since October 2016 – a run which has included games with Germany, Switzerland and Wales.
Kasper Hjulmand’s first squad as Danish coach is a strong one, including experienced internationals Simon Kjær, Christian Eriksen and Kasper Schmeichel alongside uncapped talents like Joakim Mæhle and Brentford’s Christian Nørgaard – who celebrated his call-up by signing a new four-year contract with the Bees.
The man to watch, of course, is Inter Milan’s Christian Eriksen. The 28-year-old is the Danes’ most dangerous player, having been involved in nine goals in his last eight competitive games for his country.
His presence has been integral in a run of 15 games unbeaten for De rød-hvide, and their form can be attributed somewhat to their fast starts. However, the Danes are winless as an underdog since November 2014 and face the World Number 1 here.
A world number one that was absolutely terrifying in qualification for the European Championships. The Belgians won 10 out of 10, scored 40 and conceded just three.
Remarkably, 62.5% of those goals were scored in the first half. Back Belgium to score in the first half at 8/11, and take a look at Belgium HT/Belgium FT at 15/8.
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