Friday, May 26, 2017

Andorra v Belgium: Wilmots´ side on the verge of qualification

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 Oct 2015

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Belgium will look to add their name to the list of nations who have already qualified for Euro 2016 with victory over minnows Andorra on Saturday. 

Marc Wilmots’ side have failed to qualify for the past three editions of the European Championship and have only participated in the tournament four times in their history.

That will become five this weekend should they claim all three points in the principality – and they will be confident of doing just that. 

Belgium have won five of their eight matches so far in Group B, including a 6-0 victory 12 months ago over Andorra, who are yet to claim a single point and have conceded 30 goals. 

Wilmots is not taking victory for granted, though, and knows his players must maintain their focus to ensure the job is completed.

“That [qualification] would be a reward for the work of recent years,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “If we qualify Saturday, we can certainly enjoy it.

“But I cannot guarantee a big win. Italy only beat Malta 1-0. Even small nations are increasingly well organised and give away little space. You should not necessarily expect champagne football.”

Vincent Kompany remains a major doubt for the trip as he continues to be troubled by a calf problem, the Manchester City defender having not played since his club’s 2-1 defeat to Juventus in the Champions League on September 15.

Wilmots also has concerns about the fitness of Jason Denayer and says the latter is much more of a concern ahead of their penultimate qualifier.

“He [Kompany] is doing an individual program and that is going well,” Wilmots added.

“It is not a serious injury [to Denayer], but the pain remains. The medical staff will continue to monitor him.”

In attack, Wilmots has a plethora of options with both Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne in fine form at club level in recent weeks.

Lukaku has found his goalscoring boots for Everton with three in his last two outings, while De Bruyne has settled in superbly at Manchester City with four goals and three assists since signing from Wolfsburg.

For Andorra, the long wait for a first point in European Championship qualifying continues as they have lost every single qualifier since making their debut in 1998, a run of 48 matches.

The minnows will be without Victor Rodriguez through suspension for the encounter, while Cristian Martinez and Josep Ayala are also banned.

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