Our match prediction:
Cyprus have been drawn in alongside Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Estonia, Belgium and Gibraltar, and are considered one of the underdogs in Group H. their road to Russia begins with a stern test at the Neo GSP Stadium in Nicosia with one of world’s powerhouses Belgium coming to town. Cyprus has a poor record against the Red Devils who won eight of the nine encounters, with Cyprus managing a 1-1 draw in 1995. Belgium on their own part have gone through a lot this summer and are heading into the new qualifying with a new manager at helm. Former Everton boss Roberto Martinez was announced as Marc Wilmots’ successor and he will also be joined by Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, who has been named Martinez’s assistant. Red Devils are keen to put the 3-1 quarter-final elimination at the Euro 2016 at the hands of Wales behind them and to get off to a flying start in Nicosia. We predict a clear-cut victory for the visitors.
Highligted Player (Mignolet):
Simon Luc Hildebert Mignolet is a Belgium goalkeeper born on 6 March 1988 in Sint-Truiden. He began his career in a club from his hometown, making 100 league appearances for Sint-Truidense before moving to Sunderland in 2010. Mignolet would go on to spent next four years at the Stadium of Light, making 90 Premier League appearances. As one of world’s most talented goalkeepers, the Belgium international signed for Liverpool in the summer of 2013, and he has since been the club’s first choice goalkeeper. Performing admirably most of the time, but also committing cheap mistakes at times, Mignolet has yet to win over the Liverpool fans, but remains highly regarded in his native country. The talented shot-stopper has been a member of the Belgium national team since 2011, earning over 20 caps for the Red Devils, but he has been playing second fiddle to Chelsea star Thibaut Courtois over the last few years.
Highlighted Team (Belgium):
Present on the international stage since 1904, Belgium national team have had plenty of ups and downs in the past, finishing as runners up at the 1980 European Championship in Italy. The Red Devils also won the third place on home soil at the 1972 tournament, while they enjoyed some success at the World Cup finals as well. Belgium qualified for 12 World Cup tournaments, reaching the semi-finals in 1986 and quarter-finals at the 2014 tournament in Brazil. It is the generation that played in Brazil that is believed to be the most talented team since the one featuring Enzo Scifo, Michel Preud’homme and Franky van der Elst. Playing their home games at King Baudouin Stadium, the Red Devils have impressed at the start of the 21st century, with the likes of Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne just some of the world-class players in the squad. Following some impressive results in the Euro 2016 qualifiers and international friendlies, Belgium climbed to number 1 position in the FIFA Rankings in November 2015.