Belgium and Spain both have new head coaches for their World Cup 2018 qualifying campaigns and they go head-to-head in an international friendly match in Brussels on Thursday.
Watch and bet on live streaming of Belgium v Spain from 19:45 BST on Thursday September 1 at bet365 > Live Streaming Our best bet for this match: Draw at 23/10 with Marathonbet
Former Everton manager Roberto Martinez was the surprising choice to take over the Belgium national team a month ago after Marc Wilmots again failed to deliver on his squad’s potential at Euro 2016, in which they bowed out in the quarter-finals 3-1 to Wales.
Martinez has brought in Thierry Henry as one of his assistant coaches and the Red Devils will fully expect to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia from a qualifying group that also contains Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, Estonia and Gibraltar. Their first opponents are Cyprus away next Tuesday, which means there is time to fit in this friendly match against Martinez's fellow countrymen.
Spain, meanwhile, appointed Julen Lopetegui as the successor to Vicente del Bosque, who stood down after a glorious eight years during which he led the team to the World Cup and the European Championship and retired after the last-16 exit to Italy at this summer’s tournament.
Julen Lopetegui during the press conference following his appointment as new manager of the Spain national team on July 21 2016 (Getty Images)
Lopetegui coached Spain’s junior teams to the European Under-19 and Under-21 titles in 2012 and 2013 respectively and so he is very familiar with a group of international players who are approaching the most effective phase of their careers, hence the understandable decision to appoint him.
La Roja begin their World Cup qualifying campaign on Monday at home to Liechtenstein and they have also been grouped with Italy, Israel, Albania and Macedonia, so with only one automatic place in Russia available it is not the easiest of pools.
In terms of the current squads, Lopetegui has omitted 10 players who went to Euro 2016 and his 24-man party is experimental in nature with returns for the likes of Diego Costa, Juan Mata and Paco Alcacer, while Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez and West Ham United goalkeeper Adrian are the two uncapped players and exciting Real Madrid talent Marco Asensio is included.
Martinez is without Vincent Kompany and Marouane Fellaini due to injury and has called up uncapped English-based duo Matz Sels (Newcastle United goalkeeper) and Christian Kabasele (Watford defender), with Eden Hazard set to captain Belgium in a friendly match that is expected to be tight as the world No 2-ranked nation hosts No 8.
Both teams to score @ Evens with 188BET