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Hazard dropped for Belgium's crunch World Cup clash with Croatia as Lukaku remains absent through injury

17:02 GMT+3 01/12/2022
Eden Hazard Belgium World Cup 2022
Roberto Martinez left Eden Hazard out of Belgium's lineup for Thursday's crucial match against Croatia, with Romelu Lukaku still absent due to injury.

  • Hazard replaced by Trossard up front
  • Lukaku remains absent through injury
  • Belgium need three points to ensure qualification

WHAT HAPPENED? Hazard had started both of Belgium's opening group matches, while Lukaku's thigh injury means he has to settle for a space on the bench yet again. In-form Brighton forward Leandro Trossard takes Hazard's place, in what is a must-win game for the Red Devils.

Belgium line-up: Courtois (GK); Alderweireld, Dendoncker, Vertonghen; Meunier, Witsel, Castagne, De Bruyne (C), Carrasco; Mertens, Trossard

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Martinez's shake up in the starting eleven comes after two stale performances from his side in Qatar. Belgium scraped past Canada in their opener before falling to a shock 2-0 defeat to Morocco on matchday two, creating rifts on and off the field that caused Martinez to call a meeting to "get things off their chest". All the pressure is on Thursday's matchup, as anything less than three points could see FIFA's second-ranked men's team eliminated at the first hurdle.

IN A PHOTO:

Hazard and Lukaku find themselves on the bench four years on from the last World Cup...

WHAT NEXT FOR BELGIUM? The Red Devils will fail to qualify for the last 16 without a win, which would be their first group-stage exit at a World Cup since 1998.