Much has been made of this golden generation of Belgians as potential dark horses for the World Cup, but having lost one star striker through injury already, the Red Devils can ill-afford to shed another one.
As soon as the news emerged that Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke would be forced to miss the World Cup through injuriy, the goal-scoring hopes of a nation shifted onto the broad shoulders of Romelu Lukaku.
Bad news indeed then for the 6/1 fifth favourites for Brazil glory, that an ankle injury sustained by the Chelsea man during Belgium’s last friendly against Tunisia, could well keep Lukaku out of their first Group H encounter v Algeria at least.
Lukaku scored three times in World Cup qualification and again in a recent friendly win over Sweden and, off the back of a another prolific season in the Premier League, big things were expected of the 21-year-old.
Belgium do have back-up strikers in the form of Napoli’s Dries Mertens and Lille teenager Divock Origi, but in the 4-2-3-1 system which manager Marc Wilmots likes to adopt, Lukaku was always going to be the focal point of the attack.
Belgium are currently strong 8/13 favourites to enter the second-phase of the tournament as winners of Group H and the stakes couldn’t be much higher with Germany well-fancied to top Group G.
Failure to win Group H therefore creates unwanted jeopardy for Wilmot’s men so missing Lukaku is definitely not what the doctor ordered.
Furthermore, the player himself – who has spent successive seasons on loan at West Brom and then Everton – has recently declared he would be using the finals for his own Chelsea audition.
Lukaku was hoping to sufficiently impress Blues boss Jose Mourinho enough to bring him back into the fold for the 2014/15 campaign.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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