5 Key Questions for Marc Wilmots Ahead of Belgium's Opener Against Algeria
In what will be their first group match of the World Cup in Brazil, Belgium will face Algeria on Tuesday.
Undoubtedly, manager Marc Wilmots has gone through every possible scenario in his head. What's more, he'll already have a fixed first XI in mind.
But against Algeria, the boss will get to see his team in action for the first time during a World Cup. As the tournament finally gets underway for the Rode Duivels, how will they perform?
Here, we take a look five things Wilmots will be keeping his eye on during the match against Algeria.
Will Pressure Be an Issue?
During their qualifying campaign and in their preparatory friendlies, Belgium have performed well—and sometimes even been excellent.
But during an actual World Cup, things are usually different. Simply put: The stakes are much, much higher. Consequently, pressure usually comes into play.
As the Rode Duivels face Algeria, it will be interesting to see how Belgium's relatively young squad will react to the pressures of the World Cup.
How Will the Full-Backs Perform?
With players such as Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen playing as centre-backs, it looks like Belgium has an excellent defence.
The players playing alongside the centre-backs, however, make a different impression. Because of the Rode Duivels' lack of natural full-backs, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen—who are actually natural centre-backs—have been forced out wide.
During Belgium's qualifying campaign and preparatory friendlies, Alderweireld and Vertonghen have performed admirably. But how will things go when the Belgians have to face some of the world's best players?
Should Fellaini or Dembele Play in Midfield?
In midfield, Wilmots usually plays Kevin De Bruyne as a playmaker. Axel Witsel usually functions as the anchor. The third midfielder, then, plays in a box-to-box capacity.
In Belgium's preparatory friendlies, Marouane Fellaini and Moussa Dembele have both played in this position. While Dembele brought a bit more creativity, Fellaini offered more force.
Against Algeria, Wilmots will be looking at the situation to determine what's more desirable.
Will Lukaku Bring the Goals?
When Christian Benteke suffered a serious injury, it immediately became clear that Romelu Lukaku would have to step up and replace the Aston Villa striker.
As such, the Belgians are now looking at Lukaku for goals. During the World Cup, he will have to deliver them.
During Belgium's preparatory friendlies, Lukaku scored a hat-trick against Luxembourg and another goal against Sweden.
Will he do the same when the pressure is fully on and the world is looking at him?
Who Should Play on the Right Wing?
With Lukaku the main striker, De Bruyne the playmaker and Eden Hazard playing on the left wing, Belgium's attack looks pretty much fixed.
But even now that the World Cup is finally starting, it's still not clear who will play as the Rode Duivels' right-winger.
With Dries Mertens, Kevin Mirallas, Nacer Chadli and Adnan Januzaj, Wilmots has plenty of options. But who comes closest to the manager's tactical requirements?
Depending on how the match is going, and his players' performances, the boss might be forced to tinker with the right-winger's position.