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What: World Cup Qualfiiers, European Group Five
Who: Belgium (2nd, 7pts) v Spain (1st, 9pts)
When: 20:45 CET - Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Where: Roi Baudouin, Brussels

Spain's previous three opponents in Group Five may al be due respect but none of them have offered the sort of challenge that Belgium will pose on Wednesday evening in Brussels.

La Furia Roja will face their toughest test yet when they take on the Red Devils as both sides look to prove a point in what is proving to be a very attractive encounter.

Since winning the European Championships, the Spanish have been riding high and the change of coach appears to have actually lifted the side rather than done any harm as the switch has been relatively seamless.

Luis Aragonés will have been very thankful that he was talked out of stepping down two years ago after now being able to leave in a blaze of glory and Vicente del Bosque has been pleased with the feel good factor he has inherited.

A few tweaks here and there have meant that there have been few questions from the players about their roles and there have been no complaints from a public that is still basking in their summer success.

Del Bosque has not only maintained the feel good factor, he has also maintained a very successful run with four wins out of four in his opening quarter of games and will be hoping to continue that in midweek.

Winning in Denmark in an August friendly was encouraging even if the team then struggled to record a one-goal victory at home against Bosnia & Herzegovina in the opening qualifier a few weeks later.

Surprise Start

Armenia were seen off in the next match and then at the weekend, Estonia were shown that the Spanish could actually be becoming stronger as they were beaten by a commanding display from the visitors to Tallinn.

Now Del Bosque must take his side up against the Belgians who have made a start that has surprised almost everyone bar the players and coach René Vandereycken.

In their first qualifying game last month, the team known as the Rode Duivels or the Diables Rouges depending on your location, looked like they maybe in for another scrap for points after only being able to edge past Estonia by the odd goal in five.

Their outlook improved when they held Turkey to a draw in Istanbul and was followed up by a comfortable two-goal victory against Armenia to move the team into second place in the group behind the Spanish.

Not losing any of their first three has given Belgium a huge boost after they were defeated six times in qualification for Euro 2008 and finished ten points behind group leaders Poland.

Despite that run Vandereycken kept his post and has been told to continue building towards a place and taking something against the Spanish would certainly be a huge step forward towards reaching his goal of a place in the World Cup Finals.

For Spain, they will consider it to have been a very good start and will begin to focus on their encounters with Turkey, which could decide who finishes on top of the group.

RECENT FORM

Belgium

11/10 H 2-0 Armenia
10/09 A 1-1 Turkey
06/09 H 3-2 Estonia
20/08 A 0-2 Germany
30/05 A 1-3 Italy
26/03 H 1-4 Morocco

Spain

11/10 A 3-0 Estonia
10/09 H 4-0 Armenia
06/09 H 1-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina
20/08 A 3-0 Denmark
29/06 N 1-0 Germany
26/08 N 3-0 Russia

TEAM NEWS

Belgium

TBA

Spain

TBA

PREDICTION

Spain tend to struggle against teams that defend in numbers and that is what their hosts here are likely to do to avoid the mistakes that allowed the Estonians to scored twice in their first match of the qualification stage. Del Bosque has already stated that this will be a difficult game, but neither side will be disappointed with a draw.

Belgium 1 - 1 Spain


Lucas Brown, Goal.com

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