The King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels played host to a high-profile international friendly between Belgium and Croatia. The two sides are amongst the strongest teams at Euro 2020 and gave a good account of themselves ahead of the tournament, as Belgium secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory.
Zlatko Dalic named a full-strength side, with Duje Caleta-Car starting alongside Domagoj Vida at the heart of the Croatia backline in the absence of Dejan Lovren. As for Belgium, Leander Dendoncker partnered Youri Tielemans in midfield with Kevin De Bruyne on the sidelines, while Yannick Carrasco started on the left wing as Eden Hazard continues to recover from injury.
Croatia started the game strongly and launched a flurry of attackers, with Luka Modric pulling the strings in midfield. The Real Madrid midfielder made a series of outstanding passes, but the away side failed to trouble Thibaut Courtois between the sticks.
Romelu Lukaku broke the deadlock seven minutes before half-time with an instinctive finish from close range after Croatia failed to clear their lines inside the penalty area. The Inter Milan striker is coming on the back of a sensational season for his club, having spearheaded them to their first Serie A title in over a decade.
Both sides made a flurry of changes in the second half, but Lukaku’s solitary goal ultimately decided a tightly-fought encounter in Belgium’s favor.
As the two star-studded sides played out an intriguing contest, here are the talking points from the game.
#5 Luka Modric continues to age like fine wine for Croatia
Luka Modric is approaching the twilight years of his career, but the Croatia captain is showing no signs of slowing down. Starting alongside Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic in the center of the park, the Real Madrid icon produced an outstanding performance, indicating that he is all set to enjoy another stellar tournament.
Euro 2020 could well be Modric’s last major tournament as an undisputed starter for Croatia, but he proved with his performance that he is set to go out with a bang. Zlatko Dalic gave his talismanic skipper a much-needed breather and replaced him with 30 minutes left on the clock.
#4 Youri Tielemans could be Belgium’s X-factor at Euro 2020
With Kevin De Bruyne missing, the onus was on Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans to pull the strings from the center of the park. The 24-year-old did just that and showed exactly why he is regarded as one of the most exciting midfielders in the Premier League.
Tielemans played a series of delightful passes, while he also showed his defensive work rate by putting in the hard yards to win the ball back for his side. His defense-splitting pass put Thorgan Hazard 1v1 with the Croatia goalkeeper, but the Borussia Dortmund man failed to make the most of his chance to add the icing on the cake late in the game.
Roberto Martinez has a strong squad, but Tielemans could be Belgium’s X-factor at Euro 2020.
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