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Preview: Cyprus vs. Belgium

Sports Mole previews the Euro 2016 qualifying clash between Cyprus and Belgium.

Belgium will be looking to take a further step towards qualification for Euro 2016 when they travel to face Cyprus.

Marc Wilmots's men defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-1 to get their hopes of reaching France next year back on track, while Pambos Christodoulou's side lost 1-0 to Wales.


Cypriot player Giorgos Merkis (C) celebrates scoring a goal during their Euro 2016 Group B qualifying match against Andorra at the GSP Stadium in the capital Nicosia on November 16, 2014© Getty Images

Cyprus face an uphill challenge to qualify for Euro 2016 following their defeat at the hands of Chris Coleman's side on Thursday.

Gareth Bale scored the only goal of the game to condemn them to the loss, their fourth defeat of the qualifying campaign.

The result has left Christodoulou's men in fourth place in the group on nine points, and although their hopes of reaching the tournament next year are not over, it is highly unlikely they that will be competing in France next year.

The Cypriots have beaten Andorra twice and recorded an away victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina, and will have to match their achievement against Mehmed Bazdarevic's men to keep their slim hopes of qualification alive.

Christodoulou's side's problems will be coping with the attacking threat of Belgium, who have notched the most goals in Group B with 16. Cyprus have conceded 12 in their seven matches; only Andorra have allowed more goals in the group.

Nestoras Mitidis has notched three goals for Cyprus during qualifying and Christodoulou will need a contribution from him against Wilmots's men to produce the surprise result needed to keep themselves in the hunt for third place.

Recent form: LLWLWL


Belgium's Marouane Fellaini celebrates after scoring during the Euro 2016 qualifying match between Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, on September 3, 2015© Getty Images

Belgium responded to their defeat at the hands of Wales in their last qualifier in perfect fashion as they came from behind to beat Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Nerves would have been present in the camp when Edin Dzeko put Bazdarevic's men ahead in the 15th minute, but De Rode Duivels responded immediately through Marouane Fellaini.

Kevin De Bruyne put Wilmots's men ahead just before the break and Eden Hazard netted from the penalty spot to secure the victory, giving the team a much-needed cushion from third-placed Israel.

The gap to Israel is still only at two points so there is still plenty of work to do for Belgium to secure their place at the Championships next year, starting in Cyprus at GSP Stadium.

De Bruyne was in impressive form for Wilmots's men in their victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina, while Fellaini netted his fourth goal of the campaign in the win. The team will look for him to continue his fine form as Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke have struggled in front of goal.

Defensively, Belgium were cut open at times during their clash against Bazdarevic's side, although they have conceded just three goals in their seven matches. However, they have failed to keep a clean sheet in their past two outings, which Wilmots will be determined to put right.

Recent form: DWWWLW

Team News

Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after scoring with Belgium's Vincent Kompany during the Euro 2016 qualifying match between Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, on September 3, 2015© Getty Images

Wilmots may opt to stick with the same team that defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina due to the quality of their performance.

However, Benteke could be available again after missing the clash on Thursday due to a thigh injury, although Lukaku played well in the lone frontman role at the King Baudouin Stadium.

Dries Mertens and Divock Origi are also available for Wilmots should he chose to rotate his lineup after they came off the bench in the 3-1 win.

Due to the nature of their narrow defeat to Wales, Christodoulou will be tempted to stick with the same team at the GSP Stadium.

Georgios Kolokoudias and Nikos Englezou are options available to the Cyprus boss should he choose to make changes to his starting lineup.

Cyprus possible starting lineup:
Giorgallides; Dossa Junior, Demetriou, Antoniades, Laifis; Economides, Charalambides, Makridis, Nikolaou; Mitidis

Belgium possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Aldweireld, Kompany, Vermaelen, Vertonghen; Witsel; Fellaini, De Bruyne, Nainggolan, Hazard; Lukaku

Head To Head

Belgium hammered Cyprus 5-0 in their previous meeting during qualifying earlier this year at the King Baudouin Stadium.

Fellaini notched a brace, while there were also goals for Benteke, Hazard and Michy Batshuayi in the comprehensive victory.

The teams have met on only one other occasion back in 1999 in a friendly match, when an Emile Mpenza goal handed Belgium a 1-0 win in Larnaca.

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We say: Cyprus 0-3 Belgium

Belgium looked in imperious form in the final third of their clash against Bosnia-Herzegovina, especially in the second half when De Bruyne and Hazard started to pull the strings.

The duo looked to be getting into prime form and if they are at anywhere near their best, it will a very long afternoon for Cyprus.

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Belgium's Steven Defour (C) strikes the ball, flanked by Bosnia and Herzegovina's Vedad Ibisevic (L) and Senad Lulic (R) during the Euro 2016 qualifying match on October 13, 2014
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