Belgium will look to carve out a clear advantage at the top of Group I by beating Cyprus on Sunday to press ahead in their UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.
Cyprus sit level at the summit after thumping San Marino 5-0 on Matchday 1, while Roberto Martinez's side defeated Russia 3-1 to get their quest up and running with a victory.
Belgium now travel for their first away fixture, with captain Eden Hazard hoping to follow up his brace against Russia on Thursday with another impressive display at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia.
Sunday's hosts snapped a streak of four matches without a win when they beat San Marino, but the Red Devils will provide a much greater threat to Group I's incumbent leaders.
Date: Sunday, March 24
Time: 7:45 p.m. GMT/3:45 p.m. ET
Venue: GSP Stadium, Nicosia
TV Info: Sky Sports Red Button (UK)
More than six weeks after his last brace for Chelsea, Hazard made a match-winning return to the Belgian fold on Thursday and helped the hosts win their first group game in Brussels.
The 28-year-old had failed to score in his previous four appearances for the national team but put that form behind him, scoring on the brink of half-time and again in the 88th minute.
Journalist Kristof Terreur pointed to Hazard's heightened attacking instincts since Martinez made him captain:
Kristof Terreur 📰🎥 @HLNinEngeland
💯 Eden Hazard (28) will celebrate his 100th Belgium cap on Sunday. Overall stats for Belgium 🇧🇪: ⏱ 99 games ⚽️ 29 goals 🅰️ 26 assists His influence has seriously increased since he’s captain: Stats in his last 32 games for Belgium 🇧🇪: ⚽️ 16 goals 🅰️ 14 assists #cfc https://t.co/GB28CrOqmJ
Manchester City duo Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany will be unavailable for the visitors due to injury, while a foot problem has also seen Romelu Lukaku withdraw from the squad. Right-back Thomas Meunier and midfield anchor Axel Witsel are also sidelined.
Copenhagen striker Pieros Sotiriou scored two penalties in four minutes against San Marino on Thursday, but the Copenhagen attacker was taken off after 27 minutes due to injury.
He's a doubt for Sunday's a clash as a result—an opportunity he may regret as Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois looks to be in shaky form of late, via Soccer AM:
These two teams last met in qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and Belgium came out as 7-0 aggregate victors over two matches, beating the Nicosia hosts 3-0 in September 2016.
There's a temptation to consider the most recent victory for Ran Ben Shimon's side—the joint-largest in their history—as cause for excitement. Commentator Eric Krakauer posted to the contrary:
Belgium should have the resources to overcome several absences, with Crystal Palace striker Michy Batshuayi—on loan from Chelsea—a potential pick to capitalise up front in the absence of Lukaku.