Belgium host France at the King Baudouin Stadium this Wednesday in an international friendly with the tables having turned dramatically since the pair last met in a friendly in 2011. The match finished goalless, but prior to that the two sides had not met since 2004 when Les Bleus won 2-0 in Belgium.
On Wednesday, France will enter the match 13 places behind Les Diables Rouges in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola world rankings. The match gives both a chance to regroup ahead of key upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Aside from that it bears little meaning for both sides apart from a traditional rivalry given their geographic proximity.
Belgium are top of Group A having dropped just two points so far in qualifying. Currently, they are three points clear of second placed Croatia, and they are gearing up for double-header with Scotland and Serbia.
France are in a less favourable position. Trailing World and European champions Spain by one point in Group I, Didier Deschamps’ side have played La Furia Roja twice already. If French World Cup qualification is to be secured, it will almost certainly come through the playoffs.
Deschamps is currently suffering because he is in charge of a generation of players that is stagnating; the promising young French talent too young to completely overhaul the current set-up. His opposite number Marc Wilmots is facing exactly the opposite problem. If anything, he has too much talent to choose from at present.
Although there is nothing riding on the game, Belgium v France will at least boast some of Europe’s best young talents.
Here are five battles to watch in the clash.