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Croatia blanks Belgium as snakebit Lukaku denied super sub status

Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards and Nicholas Mendola preview the Group B finale between Iran and the USMNT by discussing who should line up for the U.S. against a challenging Iran team.

Belgium’s golden generation crashed out of the World Cup following a scoreless draw with Croatia, who will finish second to victorious Morocco in Group F at the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

Romelu Lukaku came off the bench and came close to being the hero on several occasions, but the Red Devils could not find the goal needed to send Croatia home and visit the Round of 16.


How’d we get here? Croatia snapped off a 4-1 win over Canada to move atop the group following an opening draw with Morocco, while Belgium fell to the Moroccans after beating the Canadians.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

De Bruyne, Lukaku can’t save the day as Belgium whimpers out

Romelu Lukaku finally made his tournament debut, a halftime sub with the Red Devils requiring a win to claim a spot in the knockout rounds.

The Belgian was cued up by Kevin De Bruyne and Thorgan Hazard amongst others, the latter lifting a ball onto Lukaku’s chest inside the six in the 90th minute, but the Inter Milan man just couldn’t get it over the line.

Croatia vs Belgium / Josko Gvardiol

His xG over 45 minutes of work was 1.67 and De Bruyne was credited with three chances created, but Croatia stood firm and got the point required to line up against Group E’s winner in the Round of 16.

RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol will leave this group stage will an escalated price tag, if there was even room for it to go up; The well-rated 20-year-old center back was instrumental in the clean sheet and had more interventions than even Croatian keeper Dominik Livakovic.

Stars of the Show

Josko Gvardiol

Kevin De Bruyne

Luka Modric

Borna Sosa

Thibaut Courtois

How to watch Croatia vs Belgium live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Thursday, Dec. 1
Stadium: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Key storylines, players to watch closely

Croatia looked sleepy in the opening draw with Morocco, a draw that looks better after the Atlas Lions beat Belgium. They snapped to life, perhaps somewhat fueled by Canadian coach John Herdman’s confident pre-match talk, and now look capable of taking down anyone in the field. Or was that merely Canada’s beleaguered defense? We’ll find out when Mateo Kovacic and Co. meet the Belgians.

Kevin De Bruyne made waves after the win over Canada when he said Belgium’s golden generation missed its window by not claiming honors at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Red Devils failed to take down Morocco. They’ve been without Romelu Lukaku so far this tournament and Michy Batshuayi has the lone goal. Will Roberto Martinez’s men head home far earlier than expected?

Croatia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 5
World Cup titles: 1 (1966)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA
Coach: Gareth Southgate
Key players: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Declan Rice

Belgium quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 20
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group A)
Coach: Dragan Skocic
Key players: Ehsan Hajsafi, Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi

Follow @NicholasMendola