International Friendly: Belgium vs Egypt – Lineups, Preview and Prediction

Roberto Martinez will hope his side can return to winning ways as they face Egypt on Wednesday.


REUTERS/Eric Vidal

19:45 BST, Wednesday 6th June, King Baudouin Stadium (Brussels, Belgium)

Belgium host Egypt on Wednesday night as they step up their preparations for their respective World Cup campaigns. 

Both sides drew blanks in their opening warm up matches, drawing 0-0 with Portugal and Colombia, respectively. 

Roberto Martinez may see this as a decent rehearsal for when they face north African side Tunisia in Moscow on June 23. 

Mohamed Salah has been included in Egypt’s 23, despite his injury picked up in the Champions League final, but it’s too early for him to feature in Brussels against the Belgians. 

Mohamed Elneny is back in contention, however, which is a big boost for coach Hector Cuper. 

The midfielder was last seen in tears after injuring his ankle ligaments against West Ham in April. While the 25-year-old missed out against Colombia, he is expected to make his return on Wednesday night.

Belgium Lineup

Martinez may rotate slightly, with one warmup game left after this one, but expect him to go with a strong side, especially having cut the squad down from 28 to 23 on Monday. 

Celtic man Dedryck Boyata is expected to come into the heart of the back three after Vincent Kompany’s injury against Portugal. 

Yannick Carrasco is still in pole position to start at left wing back in Russia but Nacer Chadli may get a start here after proving sufficient fitness levels to make the final 23. 

Mousa Dembele started against Portugal so is unlikely to feature from the start here with Martinez wary of protecting him ahead of the finals. 

Batshuayi could feature after a long injury layoff but is more likely to feature from the bench.

Egypt Lineup

45-year-old goalkeeper Mohamed El Hadary is poised to become the oldest player ever to feature at a World Cup finals and should reclaim his starting berth for this friendly after Mohamed El Shenawy was handed the gloves against Colombia. 

Ahmed Fathi should start at right back but Ahmed Elmohamady could return after his extended season with Aston Villa. 

West Brom duo Ali Gabr and Ahmed Hegazi will partner each other in the defence and Mohamed Abdelshafi should make up the back four. 

Mohamed Elneny is expected to make his return from injury and could well start alongside Tarek Hamed. 

Ramadan Sobhi may miss out after being given permission to return to England to sign for Huddersfield Town, but should be back in time to feature. 

Key Players: Eden Hazard (Belgium) vs Ahmed Hegazi (Egypt)

The mercurial Hazard is one of the best players in the Premier League and has the ability to win any match on his own. 

His trickery and vision will be crucial for Roberto Martinez this summer.

REUTERS/Eric Vidal

Egypt will have their hands full trying to contain the likes of Hazard, as well as stars like Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne and Ahmed Hegazi will have to be on top form to marshal the Red Devils’ attack. 

Despite relegation, Hegazi had a decent season at West Bromwich Albion and is tough enough and smart enough to handle Romelu Lukaku successfully, as he did in West Brom’s 1-0 win at Old Trafford in April. 

Talking Points

Is Dedryck Boyata good enough for this level?

There were nearly five years between Boyata’s first cap and his second, but he is now back from the international wilderness. 

Depending on the extent of Vincent Kompany’s injury picked up against Portugal, the Celtic defender may find himself starting in Russia in the middle of Belgium’s back three. 

The 27-year-old has improved in his time at Celtic but is still vulnerable when pressed. Will be desperate to stake his claim and prove himself. 

It’ll help that he’ll be surrounded by Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, arguably the two best defenders in the Premier League. 

Who will start at left wing back for Belgium?

Yannick Carrasco appears to be in the driving seat for the left wing back spot at the World Cup, but after returning from a long-term injury, Nacer Chadli has emerged as a surprise contender to take the spot. 

Although considered more as a winger throughout his career, playing under Tony Pulis as virtually a left back in a back six at times could be a useful experience for Chadli, who would struggle to get into the side in his more natural position. 

Jordan Lukaku has been omitted from the squad so it will be between these two – a good performance against the Egyptians could give one of them the edge. 

Can Egypt score without Mohamed Salah?

There’s a reason there was so much of a commotion in Egypt when Salah went off injured in the Champions League. 

He is their talisman, he gives them hope. But for now, his World Cup hangs in the balance, despite being named in the squad. 

If Salah is to miss out on even one game, it might be doubted whether the Pharoah’s have the firepower to get through teams. 

Coach Hector Cuper will hope that Ramadan will be available for this game, and there is excitement about Kasimpasa attacking midfielder Trezeguet. 

If they can find a way through the Belgians without their star man, it’ll give them great confidence going into the finals. 

Prediction: Belgium 2-0 Egypt

There are still question marks over this Belgium side, but they should still have enough to overcome Belgium in Brussels. 

Without Salah Egypt will put in a brave effort, but they will lack the firepower to hurt the Belgians.

  1. Poll: How will this one finish?

    1. Definitely Belgium
    2. Draw
    3. Egypt can do it
    257 votes
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Etienne Fermie

Étienne Fermie is a writer for RealSport, specialising in football and tennis.

Having featured in the Guardian and on LoveSport Radio, Étienne also co-founded the 3pm Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @etiennefermie 

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