• Fri. Dec 9th, 2022

Nov 15, 2020

Two of the world’s top sides lock horns on Sunday at 7:45pm as England go to Belgium in the Nations League – LIVE on talkSPORT.
England, ranked fourth in the FIFA rankings, will realistically have to beat the no.1 side in the world to keep alive their hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the competition.
You’ve done it once, go do it again. England beat Belgium last time the two sides met
Getting a result in Belgium shouldn’t be as daunting a prospect as it would normally be – fans aren’t allowed in after all.
But the Three Lions got the better of the Red Devils last month, coming from behind to win 2-1 at Wembley thanks to Marcus Rashford’s penalty and a goal by Mason Mount.
It promises to be an entertaining match and what neutrals will particularly be able to get out of it is seeing a number of top players from both sides do battle on the pitch.
But what would it look like if you mixed the two sides? talkSPORT.com has picked an Belgium vs England combined XI.
Former Birmingham City manager Pep Clotet praises Gareth Southgate for calling up Dortmund wonderkid Jude Bellingham to the England national team
First things first – the formation. Belgium usually play a 3-4-3, while Gareth Southgate has often used three defenders plus wing-backs in his England line-ups.
The team doesn’t look that impressive when you look at the defence. Thibaut Courtois, who wasn’t the most reliable towards the end of his time at Chelsea, is in goal.
He’s not featured in Belgium’s recent line-ups but involvement in last season’s Champions League and injury have been the reasons for that. Expect Roberto Martinez to pick the Real Madrid star on Sunday.
Meanwhile, it’s still not clear who Southgate’s no.1 will be going into Euro 2020 next summer. At the moment it’s Jordan Pickford but the Everton goalie has plenty of critics for the mistakes he makes with his club.
It’s not clear if Pickford will be England No.1 for much longer
Few would dispute putting Toby Alderweireld in the defensive three but the other two slots are up for debate.
It has to be considered that England are down to the bare bones in defence, with Joe Gomez leaving camp with a knee injury in training. Harry Maguire is suspended for this contest following his red card in England’s last Nations League clash against Denmark.
It was therefore a toss-up between Conor Coady, Eric Dier, Michael Keane or Tyrone Mings and we’ve gone for Alderweireld’s Spurs teammate.
The final slot in defence has gone to Jason Denayer. Dedryck Boyata and England’s other defenders were in contention but the former Manchester City man clinches it as he’s a regular in the Belgium team and played a big part in helping Lyon reach the Champions League semi-finals last season.
Denayer (left) and Alderweireld (right) played alongside each other against England last month
In terms of wing-backs we’ll go for the easy pick first which is Ben Chilwell on the left. Belgium don’t have a huge amount going on there and Chilwell is Southgate’s first choice there when everyone’s fit so the Chelsea man gets in by default.
On the right, Trent Alexander-Arnold is out injured so it was then between Thomas Meunier and Kieran Trippier.
If we were going off World Cup form, Meunier would just about get it but we’ve gone for Trippier, who was immense when England beat the Belgians – Southgate comparing the ‘Bury Beckham’ to a soldier afterwards and Trippier’s absence against the Danes was felt.
Trippier left Spurs in 2019 following a poor 2018/19 season, but his career has been reborn at Atletico Madrid and England
The standard gets very high in midfield with Belgium boasting Axel Witsel and Youri Tielemans in their ranks, while England have Mount, Declan Rice, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Harry Winks in the middle.
But Kevin De Bruyne and Jordan Henderson make the cut. Both are one of the first names on their respective managers’ team sheets and they’d play well together. Henderson could sit back more, leaving De Bruyne to work his magic in attack.
It’s a pretty star-studded front line, too. The big decision came in the middle – Harry Kane or Romelu Lukaku. Both are in great form but we’ve picked Kane. As good as Lukaku is, Kane’s form this season shows he’s better at bringing other forwards into the game more.
It was a tough call but talkSPORT.com just about favours Kane over Lukaku
Which leads us to who takes up the final two spots. Again, a number of talented players were in the running such as Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford for England, while Belgium have the likes of Dries Mertens and Thorgan Hazard.
But we’ve gone for Raheem Sterling and Eden Hazard. The latter hasn’t been the player he was at Chelsea since joining from Real Madrid but on his day, he’s the best of the lot.
Belgium vs England combined XI
Listen to full commentary of Belgium vs England LIVE on talkSPORT on Sunday, kick-off 7:45pm