Picture: AFP

DOHA — When Belgium’s golden generation and Croatia’s seasoned squad meet on Thursday at the 2022 World Cup, the outcome will be decisive. Young players rarely get a chance in this game. Croatia reached the final four years ago in Russia.

In the same World Cup in 2018, Belgium was in third place. Both teams depend on very experienced players this time.

20-year-old Josko Guadilo and 25-year-old Nikola Vlasic from Croatia and 21-year-old Charles de Kettlere from Belgium are some exceptions. Belgium’s 21-year-old Amadou Onana is suspended due to two yellow cards.

Guadalupe is nicknamed ‘Little Pep’, as his name is somewhat similar to Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola. Physically strong, he is a regular player for Croatia and Leipzig.

Croatia team is a team full of really old players. As are Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic. Vlasic is one of the best midfielders in Italy’s Serie A. He is playing for Torino from West Ham on loan. He scored from midfield Known more for creating chances and long hard shots.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez says about Croatia, “Croatia’s midfield is really scary.” He adds, “Croatian coach (Zlatko Dalic) has a good mix of new faces with old players.”

Belgium itself relies on veteran players. Like Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku.

All three of these players are not fully fit physically. So maybe, Charles de Kettlere aka CDK might get a better chance. Since playing for Italian league champions AC Milan, his performances have improved drastically.

“There’s definitely been a rise in some of the younger players lately and they’re slowly fading into the background,” Martinez says. I will field them whenever I need them. Some of them have already played well in the match against Morocco.

Croatia will advance to the last 16 with a win in this match. Not only that, even a draw is enough for the team. For Belgium, a certain victory is necessary in this game.

In this group H, Croatia and Morocco are in the top two positions with 4 points each, followed by Belgium with 3 points. Canada is scoreless. His challenge to the tournament is over.

If Canada beats Morocco in their other group game, Croatia and Belgium can both advance to the knockout stages. “We will not play for one point,” says Vlasic. We have to play for victory and we play for victory.

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