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Written By Onyeka Daniel

At the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne, with Polish referee, Syzmon Marciniak in charge of proceedings, it will be Belgium against Romania in their second game in Group E, at the ongoing European Championship, happening in Germany. Heading into this encounter, both teams had a different fortune from their first match, hence, the objective could be slightly different.

The Red Devils suffered a shocking 1-0 loss to Slovakia, considered one of the biggest upset in the tournament yet, jeopardizing their chances of making it out of the group stage. For Romania, they managed to pull off a miracle, with a 3-0 win over Ukraine in the first match of the group and would definitely fancy their chances of going into the knockout stage.

Belgium

It was Domenico Tedesco’s first defeat since taking over the Red Devils in February 2023, it was also their first since going down to Morocco at the 2022 World Cup and only the second time they’d fail to score since he’s been at the helm. Coupled with the fact that they were denied a goal on two different occasions by VAR in that loss against Slovakia, perhaps, there’s not much need to panic because they’re creating the chances.

For the manager, while he might be tempted to stick with his trusted 4-2-3-1 formation, there could be a switch to 3-4-3. This will allow him take full advantage of the number of wingers at his disposal and also try and stretch the opponent. While Lukaku will be looking to redeem himself and open his goal account at the tournament, he will need all the help he can get from the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Jeremy Doku, Dodi Lukebakio and Leandro Trossard.

Belgium Possible Starting Lineup: Casteels; Castagne, Debast, Faes, Theate; Tielemans, Onana; Doku, De Bruyne, Trossard; Lukaku. Thomas Meunier and Axel Witsel are expected to miss this match, after sitting out the first game due to injury.

Romania

For Romania, after registering their biggest margin of victory in European Championship history, there would definitely be a heightened sense that their destiny lies in their own hands. That win will definitely give them a new level of confidence, as confirmed by midfielder and opening goalscorer Nicolae Stanciu who claimed the win gave him “the best day of his life”, apart from the birth of his daughters.

Going into this match, Romania would be expected to send out an unchanged starting lineup, recent reports have it that Parma winger Valentin Mihaila is a candidate to replace Florinel Coman on the left wing. Mihaila was apparently overlooked for a starting role against Ukraine due to illness, although he still came off the bench for the final half-hour and was a star in the qualifiers, where he scored three of the four goals he boasts for his national team.

The coach did not rule out a change or two when addressing the media in the week, but he insisted that he would not be making wholesale changes to his starting lineup,hence he’s expected to play the usual 4-1-4-1 formation, maintaining the same tactics from their first game, defend deep and try to hit the opponent on the counter.

Unlike against Ukraine, it would perhaps be unwise to use the aggressive pressing, giving the quality of their opponent. They would be hoping that Dennis Man can conjure up another magic, after having a hand in all of their three goals in their previous game. Captain Nicolae Stanciu will be hoping to get his name on the scoresheet again.

Romania Possible Starting Lineup: Nita; Ratiu, Dragusin, Burca, Bancu; R. Marin, M. Marin, Stanciu; Man, Dragus, Mihaila.

Read Also: Euro 2024: A Quick Slide Into Group E

Head To Head

Both teams have met just five times, twice in a competitive game (World Cup qualifiers) and three times in a friendly match. Surprisingly, Romania have the edge with three wins while Belgium have two wins.

Verdict

For the Red Devils, they need a win in this game if they hope to make it into the knockout stage, while Romania will be out to get at least, a point. A 2-0 win for Belgium.

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