MX23RW : Saturday, June 19 15:41:09| >> :60:1334:1334:
Oct 8, 2020 at 7.45pm UK at Stade Roi Baudouin
BelgiumBelgium
1-1
Ivory CoastIvory Coast
Batshuayi (53')
Saelemaekers (63'), Dendoncker (64'), Bornauw (86')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Kessie (87' pen.)
Die (22')

Preview: Belgium vs. Ivory Coast - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's international friendly between Belgium and Ivory Coast in Brussels, including team news and predicted lineups.

Belgium will be looking to keep their extraordinary winning run going when they take on Ivory Coast in a friendly match at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Thursday.

The world's top-ranked nation have won 12 games on the spin and will use this friendly as preparation for their upcoming UEFA Nations League games with England and Iceland.

As many as 11,000 spectators could be allowed into the ground after the Belgian government lifted various restrictions.


Match preview

Belgium were initially scheduled to play New Zealand on Thursday evening, but the friendly was called off due to coronavirus travel restrictions and a new opponent has been found.

This is the first of three games in six days for Roberto Martinez's side and the other two - the aforementioned clashes with England and Iceland - will take priority.

The Red Devils kicked off their UEFA Nations League Group A2 campaign with a 2-0 win in Denmark and 5-1 victory at home to Iceland last month.

Not since a 5-2 loss to Switzerland in November 2018 have Belgium failed to win a game, a run that they will undoubtedly be eager to prolong in their remaining 2020 fixtures.

Ivory Coast are the first non-European side Martinez's men have faced since their run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, so this will present a different type of test.

Belgium's Jeremy Doku celebrates scoring against Iceland in the UEFA Nations League on September 8, 2020© Reuters

The Elephants are in action for the first time in 11 months owing to the coronavirus pandemic, with their most recent match seeing them lose 2-1 away to Ethiopia.

They beat Niger 1-0 in their game before that - Franck Kessie scoring the only goal - and they are third in their qualifying group for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

Indeed, the defeat to Ethiopia ended a three match winning run for Ivory Coast, who appointed Patrice Beaumelle as their new head coach earlier this year.

The African side more than held their own in their only previous meetings with Belgium - a 2014 friendly that saw Didier Drogba and Wilfried Bony net in a 2-2 comeback draw.

Belgium form (all competitions): WWWWWW

Ivory Coast form (all competitions): WLWWWL


Team News

Eden Hazard warms up for Real Madrid on July 10, 2020© Reuters

Real Madrid's Eden Hazard suffered yet another injury setback last month, but he has still been named in an extended 33-man squad by Martinez.

That includes a contingent of 10 Premier League players, including star man Kevin De Bruyne, but Belgium are expected to heavily rotate for this friendly.

Unlike their opponents, Ivory Coast are expected to field something close to the strongest XI available for the friendlies with Belgium and Japan.

AC Milan midfielder Kessie, on the scoresheet last time out, and Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe are among those available for selection.

Belgium possible starting lineup:
Mignolet; Dendoncker, Denayer, Boyata; Meunier, Witsel, Praet, Castagne; Saelemaekers, Batshuayi, Carrasco

Ivory Coast possible starting lineup:
Gbohouo; Aurier, Bailly, Gbamin, Konan; Kessie, Sangare; Pepe, Zaha, Boga; Kouame


SM words green background

We say: Belgium 3-1 Ivory Coast

Both teams have more important fixtures on the horizon - UEFA Nations League matches for Belgium, AFCON qualifiers for Ivory Coast - but this should still be an entertaining game.

Belgium are on a superb winning run stretching back nearly two years, whereas Ivory Coast have not played yet in 2020, so we can only see one outcome in Brussels.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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Eden Hazard warms up for Real Madrid on July 10, 2020
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