Belgium have been imperious as they’ve won nine of 11 unbeaten games in the last year, with the two exceptions coming against Mexico and Portugal, who are easily the best sides they’ve faced in this time. While question marks may still linger over Roberto Martinez’s ability to get the best out of his side against the better teams, they’ve had no shortage of goals when facing the rest including 4-0 and 3-0 wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt since March.
Costa Rica’s 2-0 defeat in Leeds was their fourth loss without finding the net in six outings, and given the Red Devils have kept a clean sheet in five of their last six – all on home turf – they look well placed to win to nil in Brussels.
Indeed, excluding those aforementioned ties with Mexico and Portugal, Belgium have won by a combed scoreline of 12-0 over their last four, though it should be noted that Japan at 27th were the highest team according to our rankings that they faced during this period.
Since we have Costa Rica at 17th, and given they’ve only shipped more than two goals once in nine encounters with top-10 sides since the start of the last World Cup, a repeat of their 2-0 defeat to England appears the likely outcome. In fact, three of the visitors’ last seven defeats have come by that scoreline, while 17 of their last 22 fixtures have seen fewer than three goals.
While Lukaku will undoubtedly start in Russia as the main man up front, he’s likely to be rested for this clash with Michy Batshuayi the strongest candidate to replace him in the starting XI. He enjoyed a strong finish to the season and has five goals in eight games for club and country, though the record is somewhat more impressive as he started on the bench in three of these games. Afforded an opportunity from the start, he looks a great price to open the scoring.