Euro 2020 qualifiers: All eyes on Hazard as Belgium takes on Russia

Sajith B Warrier

Bengaluru, March 21: The UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers run from March to November asn the opening week will witness some key battles.

To begin with Belgium will face Russia at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Thursday (March 21).

Match starts on Friday, March 22, 1.15am IST and will be shown live on Sony TEN2/ Sony TEN2 HD.

Belgium showcased some top quality football in UEFA Nations League A while Russia competed in League B.

However, both, Belgium and Russia will have to fight for their place in Euro 2020 after failing to win their respective groups in UEFA Nations League. This platform will act as a final resort for both teams to make it to one of the most coveted tournaments in Europe in 2020.

Trivia:

In the last 20 years, Belgium holds a 100% unbeaten record against Russia and have scored at least one goal in every single game

Russia have failed to score in two of the last three matches

At home, Belgium are unbeaten since 2002 against all teams

Belgium team news

All eyes will be on Hazard as he closes in on his 100th cap for Belgium. With Romelu Lukaku ruled out, Thomas Meunier will play an integral part of Belgium's counter attacking set-up.

With Vincent Kompany out from this tie, we could see Thomas Vermaelen take the starting spot with Toby Alderweireld in center.

Russia team news

With 15 goals in 32 matches for Russia, Artem Dzyuba will look to kick-start the qualifiers by delivering some more goals.

Denis Cheryshev and Alexander Golovin both return to the team after their minor injury setback and will add plenty of creativity in the Russian midfield.

England vs Czech Republic

Saturday, March 23, 1.15am IST (Live on Sony 2/ Sony 2 HD)

The Three Lions are riding on a wave of euphoria following their dramatic qualification for the UEFA Nations League Finals and will also look to get their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign off to a positive start. The Czech Republic are a solid side with a team of regular international starters who could prove to be a thorn for the English.

Trivia:

In the most recent international tournaments, the FIFA World Cup and UEFA Nations League, Czech Republic failed to qualify for the former and finished second in UEFA Nations League Group B behind Ukraine.

The last time both sides faced each other was in 2008 for a friendly at Wembley, which ended in 2-2 draw.

England are unbeaten in their last five matches while Czech Republic have won 3 and lost 2 matches leading to the start of Euro 2020 qualifiers.

England team news

Harry Kane is expected to lead the line for the Three Lions with Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford supporting him up top. Fabian Delph, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and John Stones all withdrew from the squad earlier this week due to injury which has paved the way for the future stars of England like Declan Rice, Callum Hudson-Odoi and James Ward-Prowse.

Czech Republic team news: Patrik Schick, Matej Vydra and Jakub Jankto are expected to start up-front for the Czech National Team while Thomas Kalas and Ondrej Celustka might be assigned at the back to keep the roaring lions at bay.

Netherlands vs Germany

Monday, March 25, 1.15 am IST (Live on Sony TEN2).

Last year, in the UEFA Nations League, the Netherlands compounded Germany's current difficulties with a 3-0 win at home and a comeback 2-2 draw away. It is an interesting coincidence that they meet again in Group C of the Euro 2020 qualifiers where the Dutch have a great chance to further add to their old rivals pain.

Trivia: Netherlands have failed to make the past two tournaments, missing out on the 2016 European Championship and the FIFA World Cup last year On their last trip to Amsterdam, Germany lost 3-0 to Netherlands on their road to UEFA Nations League Finals The Netherlands have won seven of their last eight home games

Team news:

Netherlands: The Dutch manager, Ronald Koeman will look to keep the same team that he had for the UEFA Nations League fixtures back in November, with the likes of centre back Virgil Van Dijk and forward Memphis Depay highlighting the squad.

Germany: Only three of Germany's 2014 World Cup-winning squad Manuel Nuer, Toni Kroos and Matthias Ginter survived Joachim Low's selection test ahead of the international fixtures. Joachim Low believes a new cycle is starting with the Euro 2020 qualifiers and given last year's results, changes in the German squad were necessary.

(Source: MSL Media)

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