Greece faces Belgian roadblock on road to Russia

The Greek team will face its biggest test of the current World Cup Qualifying campaign at the Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels this weekend

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There’ll be no shortage of Hellenic pride on display when the Ethniki passes its biggest test of the current World Cup Qualifying campaign at the Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels on Greek Independence Day.

Group H leader Belgium has brushed aside all challengers in their four matches of this campaign winning each match convincingly with a formidable goal difference of 21 goals scored and conceding just one. Admittedly, teams like Gibraltar and Estonia are hardly world powers, but the Belgians put third-placed Bosnia-Herzegovnia to the sword by 4-1 in their encounter.

Belgian coach Roberto Martinez is blessed with an embarrassment of attacking riches, even with the absence of superstar forward and captain Eden Hazard who has been ruled out of Saturday’s match with an injury.

Martinez can draw on the in-form Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, Napoli forward Dries Mertens (who has scored 25 goals in 35 club appearances this season) and Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke. They’ll be supported by attacking midfielders Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) and AS Roma’s Rodja Mainggolan.

Likewise, in defence Martinez has plenty of depth to cover for the absence of injured Manchester City centre back Vincent Company. Tottenham pair Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, as well as AS Roma’s Thomas Vermaelen provide quality and experience at the back whilst in goal, they have world-class Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois.

Greece, under German coach Michael Skibbe, has made an undefeated start to their qualifying campaign lying second, just two points behind the Belgians, and three points ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovnia with which they drew 1-1 at home in November, thanks to a very late equaliser from Giorgos…

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