…and welcome to the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, where Belgium and Wales meet for the fourth time in the past 18 months.
this clash comes in the UEFA Nations League, but the game’s importance certainly lies more in its capacity as the first of two final matches before both sides head to Qatar’s World Cup in November.
Roberto Martinez and Rob Page have only the rest of this week to work with their squads before finalizing their World Cup roster plans, meaning fringe squad members will desperately impress as they try to book their place on the plane to Qatar.
Tonight’s parties have met regularly over the past decade. In fact, after only meeting eight times from 1949 to 1997, they’ve equaled that number since 2012 — with tonight’s clash their ninth in that span.
Belgian superstar Kevin de Bruyne has even admitted that he was bored playing against Wales in the lead up to this match.
“I think half my international career has been against Wales,” said Manchester City midfielder De Bruyne. ‘I do not know why. It’s a bit boring. I think it’s 12 times I’ve played against them, it’s always the same teams.”
While the quote was made more in jest than seriousness, it’s worth noting that since 2012, the head-to-head confrontation between the parties has remarkably even taken into account Belgium’s place among the supposed elite of international football.
Each side has had two wins from the eight matches, the remaining four, including the two most recent, resulting in draws.
While attention will understandably be focused on the World Cup, Rob Page will be aware that a loss to his side here will doom them to relegation to League B in the Nations League.
The Welsh have just one point from their four Group 4 matches, but a win here would put them on their way to decide relegation against Poland on Sunday.