Belgium vs Canada: 2022 World Cup Preview & Potential Lineups

FIFA's 2nd-ranked Belgium begin their 2022 FIFA World Cup journey by embarking upon their third successive World Cup campaign and 14th overall against Canada at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

Time is ticking for Belgium's 'Golden Generation' to show spending over 1350 days at the top of the FIFA world rankings was no fluke as they aim to bring home the first-ever piece of major silverware.

Roberto Martinez's star-studded team has developed a nasty habit of underperforming at most prestigious international tournaments, as evidenced by an underwhelming quarter-final exit at Euro 2020.

De Rode Duivels did better that record in Russia four years ago as eventual winners France stopped them in their tracks in the semi-finals, sending them to a third-place playoff tie.

While the Belgians dispatched England 2-0 to win a consolation third place, there's no doubt they will be fighting tooth and nail to go two better in Qatar.

But first, they must cope with CONCACAF high-flyers Canada, who return to the World Cup finals for the first time since 1986 on the back of a stellar qualifying campaign.  

Keen to put down their marker as underdogs before their country co-hosting the tournament in 2026, Les Rouges made light work of the North American qualification group, finishing top of the standings. 

In doing so, John Herdman's left Mexico and the United States in the dust, having netted more goals (23) and conceded fewer (7) than any other nation from the CONCACAF confederation. 

Match Preview

Belgium

Belgium suffered a morale-damaging 2-1 defeat to Egypt in their final pre-tournament warm-up game and are now risking going winless in three successive internationals for the first time since March 2014.

Despite their favorite tag ahead of the kick-off, seeing Belgium dropping points here isn't as far-fetched as you may assume, especially following an abysmal 2022/23 UEFA Nations League campaign (W3, D1, L2).

Yet on a more positive note, De Rode Duivels put their well-documented scoring prowess on display in 'Russia 2018,' notching up a tournament-high 16 goals. 

That's an example they'll be looking to follow by this winter.

Canada

With Canada's only previous World Cup participation ending on a sorrowful note (L3), you'd be right to anticipate a field day for Belgium. But that solitary appearance dates back to 1986, rendering the statistic meaningless. 

What does matter, however, is that Les Rouges enjoyed a jaw-dropping World Cup qualification campaign (W8, D4, L2) and can call upon Lille's Jonathan David to provide a spark upfront. 

It's not all rosy for boss Herdman, considering his men have shown their proneness to underperforming in unfamiliar surroundings, having bested only sub-par rivals Honduras and El Salvador on foreign soil during the qualifying cycle (D3, L2).

Belgium vs Canada Potential Line-ups

Belgium (3-4-3): Thibaut Courtois; Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Zeno Debast; Thomas Meunier, Youri Tielemans, Axel Witsel, Timothy Castagne; Kevin De Bruyne, Michy Batshuayi, Eden Hazard. 

Canada (5-3-2): Milan Borjan; Richie Laryea, Alistair Johnston, Steven Vitoria, Kamal Miller, Sam Adekugbe; Tajon Buchanan, Atiba Hutchinson, Stephen Eustaquio; Jonathan David, Cyle Larin.