Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard run riot against Tunisia as Belgium qualify for World Cup knock-out stages

Sam Wallace
hazard scores two goals - Getty Images Europe

Belgium in 2018: a team who create many more goalscoring chances than they convert with a 40-goal centre-forward who is only 25 years old - and yet with qualification almost assured, Romelu Lukaku is not likely to be a concern for England yet.

Lukaku came off injured as Roberto Martinez’s team pasted Tunisia under warm summer rain in Moscow but not before the striker had scored the 39th and 40th goals of his international career. Had he scored them in an England shirt, Belgium’s all-time top goalscorer would currently be tied for fifth place on the all-time list with Michael Owen, who had a similarly prolific early career, but even he did not score as quickly as Lukaku.

The Manchester United striker now has 23 goals and four assists in his last 20 games for his country and for all those chances that slip away this is a team that creates them by the bucketload.

When Lukaku bears down on goal, or runs in behind onto a pass from one of the many creatives in this team, you can never be sure what kind of finish is coming but - as with his club - he finishes enough to be a very significant figure at this World Cup finals.

There were two more for Eden Hazard as Belgium dismantled Tunisia in a way that England could never manage when they won in injury time against the North Africans in their opening game, and much of it was impressive.

Hazard flitted around the Tunisia area, drawing one of the competition’s most reckless fouls from Syam Benyoussef after just four minutes which gave him a penalty that set Belgium on their way. Before the end, when the substitute Michy Batshuayi buried one of his five chances, it was possible to have lost count of all the opportunities that Belgium had passed up to make this game the biggest-margin win of the tournament so far.

They still managed to concede a second in the third minute of injury time and it was that moment, and others, which will give their opponents in the later rounds reason to think.

Lukaku, who came off with an ankle ligament injury that Martinez said will be assessed, looks unlikely to be in the team that faces England in Kaliningrad on Thursday. Belgium will qualify for the second round if England avoid defeat to Panama and Martinez said if that is the case he will make “major changes” for Thursday, including Hazard who has a calf problem.

test - do not delete

Even so, both nations facing the difficult question of whether first or second would be more advantageous. Martinez said he would only try to win Thursday’s game, although the thought must have occurred to him that second could be better. “Football has a strange knack of punishing you when you don’t do things professionally,” he said. “What’s important is that every player will have a role to play, we will take it very cautiously and approach the game against England really well. We won’t be thinking of anything other than approaching that game really well.”

The obvious weakness is at the centre of the three-man Belgium defence where Dedryk Boyata, the Celtic defender, is not quite of the standard of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen either side of him. He was well protected in this game but better opposition may well feel they can pick away at that defence and Tunisia’s breakthrough came from a left-sided free-kick.

Tunisia were set up to try to win the game, although they never looked like they would from the moment Hazard was taken out around the ankles in the opening stages. Their coach, Nabil Maaloul, suggested that his players never recovered from that first penalty, even though they were briefly at 2-1 thanks to Dylan Bronn’s header from a Wahbi Khazri free-kick, with the defender then injured and substituted, one of two Tunisians who did not last the first half.

World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage

They simply did not have the quality to break down Belgium more than a couple of occasions, although there was a high-quality performance from Khazri who got his goal right at the last. A desperate time at Sunderland seemed no impediment to a very promising World Cup finals for the man now on loan at Rennes and he was skilful and explosive when on the ball.

Martinez said that it was an “open game” which was an understatement given the freedom Tunisia afforded their opponents and some of the passing was breathtaking, with Dries Mertens and Hazard combining for the move that lead to the penalty. “You have two options,” Martinez said. “To play through the press you have really good opportunities, and if you don’t get through the press you will concede chances.”

The reality is that with Kevin De Bruyne, Hazard and Mertens there was no chance of Belgium not finding a way through. Lukaku’s shot for his first was scuffed slightly but deceived Farouk Benmustapha. The Manchester United man did not always have his first touch tuned up and one would later run away from him before he made it 3-1 with a delicate dink over Benmustapha from a fine straight ball from Thomas Meunier through the Tunisia defence.

Romelu Lukaku dinks the ball past Tunisia's goalkeeper Credit: getty images

That was just before half-time and at 3-1 down Tunisia had lost all shape and most of their hope. The fourth came from Alderweireld in the right channel who struck it from his own half, a long hit that dropped over the defence and Hazard took on his chest, then once with his left foot to steer past Benmustapha and another with his right to finish.

The first Tunisia goal had come from a set-piece and Martinez said that the high number of goals from dead-balls was a consequence of the video assistant referees spotting grappling in the area. This time Bronn made a run from deep in the area and was not picked up by the Belgian defence, glancing a fine header past Thibaut Courtois.

On as a substitute for Hazard, Batshuayi conspired to miss a run of chances, including one cleared off the line, another against the bar and one that Benmustapha actually saved. He finally slid one in at the back post before Khazri got his from substitute Hamid Naguez’s cross.

Belgium had made their point - they have the goals in them, although the game against England is not shaping up to be the high-stakes decider it might have been.

WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article

3:10PM

What a World Cup it's been

So many goals. I love VAR, it's made things so much more fair, the right decisions are being made and it has gone to show how many fouls go unpunished in games. Up next is South Korea vs Mexico and you can follow all the action for that one in our liveblog right here.

I'd also recommend signing up for this so you can get Whatsapp updates sent to your phone.

World Cup whatsapp promo

 

3:05PM

Stat attack

  • Belgium have won each of their last six World Cup group stage matches, winning their last one in 2002, all three in 2014 and their opening two of this tournament.
  • Tunisia are now winless in 13 World Cup matches (D4 L9), losing their last four in a row.
  • Romelu Lukaku has now scored more goals in major international tournaments (European Championship and World Cups) than any other Belgium player (7).
  • Romelu Lukaku has scored 17 goals in his last 11 matches for Belgium, failing to score in just one of those matches (against Portugal earlier this month).
  • Belgium have scored five goals in a single World Cup match for the first time in their history.
  • Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku is the first player to score two or more goals in consecutive World Cup appearances since Diego Maradona in 1986, who scored braces against England and Belgium.
  • Eden Hazard’s penalty was Belgium’s second quickest goal in a World Cup match (5:59), behind only Leopold Anoul’s goal against England in 1954 in the fifth minute.
  • Belgium have won 11 of their 12 competitive matches under Roberto Martinez (D1), scoring 51 goals and conceding just eight in those games.
  • This was only the second match in the last four World Cup tournaments to see four goals scored in the first half – the other was Brazil v Germany in 2014, which was 5-0 to Germany at half-time.
  • Eden Hazard has been involved in 23 goals in his last 21 appearances for Belgium (11 goals, 12 assists).

3:03PM

The state of this

 

3:01PM

England up next in Group G

Who will want to top the group? There's a big chance both teams play reserve teams if England can beat Panama. Speaking of which...

How England can get the job done against physical Panama

 

2:59PM

Roberto Martinez post-match

Today was a different game. Panama were very deep and structured, you have to give Tunisia a lot of credit for pressing high up and making it an open game and in that respect it made a game with lots of action in both boxes.

That desire to find the solutions in each game, we had to suffer in spells but when we were in full flow going forward we were really sharp and have things we need to keep doing well.

2:58PM

An entertaining game

Belgium shots on goal

 Tunisia shots on goal

 

2:56PM

FULL TIME

And that's it! Tunisia are pumped out of the World Cup by an excellent Belgium performance. There are clear weaknesses in Martinez's team but they're just so entertaining to watch that you kinda hope they keep them. Goals are guaranteed when Belgium play and they should have had more than the five they got. 

2:54PM

GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLL

Khazri has scored. THE COMEBACK IS ON! 

It's not.

2:54PM

90 mins +2 - Belgium 5 Tunisia 1

And Batshuayi should have two. Tunisia's defence have fallen apart, understandably, and Batshuayi runs at them, cuts inside onto his left foot and then bends a shot wide of the post with the goalkeeper beaten.

 

2:51PM

GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL!

I was wrong! Batshuayi has his goal!

basthuayi goal

It's an assist for Tielemans too! He swings a chipped ball from the right and Batshuayi's movement is superb, staying off the shoulder of his man and peeling away at the last second to meet the cross and finish into the bottom corner.

 

2:49PM

88 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

Credit: REUTERS

It doesn't look possible that Batshuayi could miss in this photo. But he did. He looks so driven to score in this game but you'd think the chances are gone now.

2:47PM

86 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

Here comes Belgium's final substitute and it's Football Manager wonderkid Youri Tielemans. He was a captain at Anderlecht at (I think) 17 years old and is a central midfielder who can either hold the ball or attack. 

2:45PM

84 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

Since Fellaini has come on next to Witsel, De Bruyne has been allowed to get forward when he wants to and he's tearing Tunisia apart in the final third. He's just turned up in space wide left but not been able to take the ball down, having created the previous few chances for Belgium.

2:43PM

82 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

It's just not happening for Batshuayi here. De Bruyne gets into the box and passes across the area, Batshuayi meets it on the volley and forces a fantastic save from the goalkeeper. It's just one of those games for him. He could have had three goals by now - Lukaku could have secured the Golden Boot by now!

2:42PM

80 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

batshayi miss

Oh god that's an awful miss. Belgium's forward players are keen still and think they might some fun in front of goal. De Bruyne keeps a move going, Carrasco gets a hit at goal and then Batshuayi hits the bar from less than six yards.

 

2:39PM

77 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

BATSHUAYI IS IN! ROUND THE KEEPER! And it's blocked on the line. Great run by the striker and a fantastic take but his finish just isn't good enough to beat the covering defender. Needed more power there.

"It's really poor technique," says Phil Neville.

2:37PM

75 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

It's probably fair to say that some of the spark has gone out of this game. Belgium have gone into cruise control.

But Batshuayi is keen to get involved and sprints in behind the defence... the goalkeeper comes five/10 yards out of his box and slides to save, taking the ball with his chest. Very nicely done indeed.

2:34PM

72 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

Tunisia must know they're doomed here but they're still having a go. Courtois is the busier of the two goalkeepers at the moment. 

Vertonghen has just had Sliti header the side of his face, which looks pretty sore. He's OK to continue. 

2:31PM

70 mins -  Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

Sliti wins a free-kick from Boyata and Khazri is sizing it up. He crosses... but it's cleared and then Khaoui blooters an effort miles over. Lots of shots over the bar in this World Cup. Is it the ball? Bad finishing? Over-excitement?

2:29PM

68 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

No hat-trick for Hazard either. Batshuayi replaces him. Seems like a sensible replacement by Martinez. 

2:28PM

66 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

Credit: REUTERS

Sliti hits a snapshot at goal and wants a penalty because the ball pings off Alderweireld's elbow but it's never a penalty in a million years. Tunisia are probing the final third just now, looking for a chance to shoot... and Badri finds one! It's low and Courtois saves well. 

2:26PM

64 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

The rain is pouring down now onto the pitch but it's still bright sunshine. I have nothing much else to say about the weather.

Hazard tries a shot from 25 yards but puts it miles over.

 

2:23PM

62 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

Fellaini has dropped into midfield and De Bruyne has gone into the right inside-forward role, with Mertens taking the central striker position. He does that for Napoli and it's not a downgrade on Lukaku by any means.

Tunisia get up the pitch and Belgium's defenders panic to get it clear... then Belgium get up the pitch and Carrasco has the ball on the edge of the box. He sets himself and then bends one towards the top corner. Inches away from making it five.

 

2:21PM

59 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

Boooooo. No hat-trick for Lukaku - he's substituted for Maroune Fellaini. He did pick up a wee knock in the first half so that could just be a safety-first type deal.

Tunisia take Sassi off for Sliti. That one seems odd, Sassi's been doing pretty well.

2:18PM

57 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

Ooooooh that would have been amazing. Sassi controls the ball about 25/30 yards out, looks up and spots Courtois is a little off his line. He tries a volley and gets the dip right but the direction wrong. Wide of the goal.

And Belgium are in again! Carrasco has miles of space... but his first touch is poor and takes him wide. His second touch is a bad pass inside and the chances has gone.

2:16PM

55 mins - Belgium 4 Tunisia 1

Belgium can just sit deep and wait to counter now, saving a bit of energy and taking advantage of Tunisia's desperate attempts to get anything out of this. That's if they even have it in them - that goal by Hazard is a knock-out blow and there's not really any way back now. Expect Belgium substitutions soon.

2:12PM

GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!

But it doesn't matter because Hazard has scored again!

Belgium have dropped back into a counter-attacking, deeper shape and Hazard spots a chance to run in behind, gets the ball over the top and controls superbly, finishing past the goalkeeper and two defenders.

2:12PM

50 mins - Belgium 3 Tunisia 1

Tunisia find space in behind Meunier, the cross is sent in from the left and Khazri very nearly gets on the end of it. He's offside anyway but that's a decent move.

And there's another shot! Badri finds space in front of the Belgium defence (it's been there all game long) and fires a lot effort at goal. Courtois can save easily but Tunisia have identified where the danger areas are.

2:10PM

49 mins - Belgium 3 Tunisia 1

Well worked corner by Belgium. De Bruyne goes short, Witsel gives it back and De Bruyne can fire a low ball into the area. Alderweireld gets across his man at the front post but shoots over.

You can see here that Belgium's average shape is a lopsided 3-3-4. Seems to be working!

 

2:08PM

47 mins - Belgium 3 Tunisia 1

That's an 18 minute half-time interval we've had there. Longer than usual but like I said, it's hot so they probably need it.

All of a sudden Khazri is through on goal and tries a backheel flick volley inside the area. Courtois saves... but how did he find so much space that early in the half?

2:07PM

KICK OFF 2

The other thing that might guarantee goals is that Tunisia will tire in this half. They've already lost two players through injury and so only have one substitution left. And it's hot - about 30 degrees celsius apparently - so they're bound to be drained later on. 

Tunisia start the second half.

2:04PM

And the good news is

Tunisia have to go for it now. If they don't win - or at least get a point - they're out of the World Cup. Might as well give it a fair old whack then eh? And just think of the space they'll leave for Hazard, De Bruyne, Mertens and Lukaku to attack? There are goals in this game to come.

 

2:02PM

Tomorrow's big game

Don't forget (how could you?!) that we'll have live coverage of England's game vs Panama tomorrow. If you fancied some reading on that game, here's my tactical preview of it.

How England can get the job done against physical Panama

 

1:57PM

27 consecutive World Cup games without a 0-0 draw

That's a new record! We are living in the time of the greatest (most fun) World Cup ever. #lovegoals #goals

1:54PM

Lukaku level with Ronaldo for goals scored

 Romelu Lukaku of Belgium scores his team's third goal past Farouk Ben Mustapha Credit: GETTY IMAGES

The battle is on! Both players have four goals each now and I, for one, am absolutely gutted I forgot to put Lukaku in my Fantasy Football team. I was doing so well too.

Lukaku has been excellent today.

Didier Drogba sounds proud of his protege:

"He's someone who wants to learn and I'm happy giving him advice. He gets from Thierry Henry too. I think when you want to be the best you have to learn from the best."

1:51PM

Clinical Belgium finishing

That's pretty impressive. 

1:49PM

HALF TIME

Well that was excellent fun. Belgium looked like they were going to destroy Tunisia in the opening 20 minutes but there's just something off about Martinez's team and they have vulnerabilities. Neither team has looked reliable at the back and had Tunisia's attacking play been as good as Belgium's, this might well be a draw at half time.

1:48PM

GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!

LUKAKU SCORES AGAIN!

It's brilliant play by Meunier who finds himself high up the pitch to block a disastrous pass from Maaloul - the guy who's having a horror show of a performance - and he just waits for Lukaku's run before slipping the ball the other side of the centre-back. Lukaku dinks it over the goalkeeper.

1:47PM

45 mins+2 - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

Tunisia pushing for an equaliser before half time now but Belgium are  behind the ball blocking their path to goal.

And now Hazard is away! He bursts past one man, has De Bruyne to his right in a three on four, De Bruyne just has to make the final pass into Lukaku at the back post and it's a goal! But again he gets his measurements all wrong. Chance gone.

1:44PM

45 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

And now Vertonghen is down with a little injury. No stretcher this time though, which is a relief. 

Belgium attack down the left now, Tunisia putting in some strong challenges but without much success. Eventually a pass to Hazard rolls out for a goal kick.

1:42PM

43 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

Both teams have been busy in front of goal. The attacks are working well but both sets of defenders keep giving possession away... and Khaoui has just won a corner from Boyata. 

First Tunisian corner of the game. Khazri comes across to take.

Courtois catches.

1:41PM

41 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

Tunisia have been forced into another change. Ben Yousseff. S is going to have to come off and will be replaced by Ben Alouane, who plays for Leicester. And when I say plays for Leicester, I mean is employed by. He played once for Leicester last season.

1:39PM

39 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

Belgium press Tunisia's left hand side in numbers, win the ball high up the pitch and Hazard passes inside, Lukaku goes for a one-two with De Bruyne... but the final ball is poor and goes straight through to the goalkeeper. De Bruyne really hasn't been very good in this tournament so far. At least not by his standards. His final pass has often been overhit or sent in the wrong direction.

1:37PM

37 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

"Time to get some liquids on board," says the BBC commentator. I think I might go out for a pint of liquid later tonight after the final game. And I'm enjoying a bottle of liquid while I watch this match. Love that liquid.

1:36PM

36 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

Khazri has been excellent so far. He's got something of a free role for Tunisia and is dropping into space to pick up the ball and carry it forward at speed, and there's a lot of space ahead of Belgium's defence for him to move into. This is where Martinez's 3-2-5 shape (because that's what it is most of the time) becomes problematic.

On this attack, Khazri attempts a reverse through-ball into the box but puts it behind for a goal kick.

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Khazri has gone down with an ankle injury for a bit.  

1:33PM

34 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

Lukaku is just off the pitch at the moment receiving some treatment to his right ankle. Meanwhile, Tunisia are keeping up a sustained period of pressure... and KHAZRI SHOOTS FROM DISTANCE! Courtois's spilled it! Luckily for him he can grab the bouncing ball for a Tunisian can nick a cheap goal. 

Lukaku seems to be OK to come back on the pitch... and now Mustapha has dropped the ball from a cross! Belgium focusing their attacks down the right wing to target the left-back. He's having a nightmare.

1:31PM

32 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

Tunisia are terrible in defence but look dangerous going forward. Belgium's back five drift too far from the midfield and gift space for Tunisia's midfielders to drift into. Sassi turns up on the edge of the box in the centre of the pitch after an attack down the right wing, but can't get his shot on target.

1:30PM

30 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

Tunisia's defence are all over the place here. They're struggling to play out from the back and have handed a chance on the edge of their own area. Lukaku passes to Witsel, who should pass inside to hand Mertens a free run on goal but instead shoots and blasts over the bar.

It's so far over in fact that the shot doesn't even register on our shot map graphic.

1:27PM

28 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

De Bruyne and Lukaku are away! The former plays in the latter but his first touch takes the ball too far away and gives the goalie a chance. The keeper comes off his line, blocks the next touch and Lukaku goes down but acknowledges while falling that it's not a foul.

With a better first touch Lukaku had his second goal there.

1:25PM

26 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

Tunisia are attacking quickly, Khazri skips past Meunier into the box but his rabona cross/shot is caught by Courtois. Belgium build from the back but are in far too flat a shape and lose the ball to Tunisia's pressing.

1:24PM

24 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

Bronn is taken off on a stretcher :-(

In his place is Naguez, who has apparently been linked with Newcastle and Crystal Palace in the past. 

1:21PM

22 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Alderweireld is now in the right half space close to the box and GOES FOR A SHOT! Dragged wide. 

Bronn has gone down off the ball after blocking Carrasco's pass. He might have done some serious damage to his knee - it just seems to jar as he connects with the ball. Poor guy. 

1:20PM

20 mins - Belgium 2 Tunisia 1

And it should be 3-1! Belgium attack quickly, Hazard finds room in the right half space to attack, plays the ball wide right, it's crossed in and then Carrasco meets it in the box. His volley is saved but pushed towards Mertens, who passes rather than shooting and the chance goes begging.

What a start! 

1:18PM

GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!

But this time it's Tunisia!

They win a free-kick high up the pitch and Khazri crosses in to the centre of the box. Bronn gets ahead of his man and glances the header into the bottom corner, beyond the diving Courtois.

1:16PM

GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!

And it's a hiding. Lukaku scores! 

Belgium have a two on two, which becomes a one vs one for Lukaku and the Tunisia centre-back, who plays him onto his left foot (...) and Lukaku finishes low and hard to the far post. Brilliant finish.

1:15PM

15 mins - Belgium 1 Tunisia 0

This is absolutely pathetic by Khazri. He chases Vertonghen for the ball into the box, Vertonghen's fingers tap him in the face and he goes FLYING to the floor, howling in pain. 

khazri

 He should be forced to stand trial in front of his family for that one, shown the replay while his children go "daddy... why are you cheating? You said we shouldn't cheat" but it's too late. The damage is done. Anyway, Belgium are in here! Lukakuuuuuuuu

1:13PM

13 mins - Belgium 1 Tunisia 0

Hazard does some excellent work to shield the ball on the goal line and keep an attack alive but the ball has to go back and Tunisia survive. Belgium win the ball back, it's shifted out right, Lukaku dribbles down the wing and crosses low and HAZARD IS THERE! He just doesn't connect properly inside the box and the goalkeeper has an easy save.

1:10PM

11 mins - Belgium 1 Tunisia 0

Hazard and Khaoui are having a little sit down after colliding at high speed and winding each other. Both are absolutely fine to continue but that won't have been enjoyable.

1:09PM

9 mins - Belgium 1 Tunisia 0

How will Tunisia respond to that early set back? Khazri tries to play in Ben Youssef down the right but passes to Belgium's defence. Belgium have started really well here.

1:06PM

GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!

Hazard penalty

Hazard steps up real cool and slots the ball bottom left. What a start by Belgium!

 

1:05PM

PENALTY! 

Great move by Belgium! It's short passing, fluid movement and Hazard has the ball on the edge of the area. A little stepover and burst of pace later and the defender is beaten, wiping Hazard out.

Tunisia want a VAR review because they think it's outside the area....

The penalty stands! Hazard will take.

1:03PM

4 mins - Belgium 0 Tunisia 0

Tunisia push high up the pitch, want a free-kick but don't get it and Belgium break quickly! Lukaku chases a ball through to the goalkeeper and is about a yard away from beating him to it! Ben Mustapha wins this battle. 

Belgium keep up the pressure and Meunier cuts inside onto his left foot to shoot... but the goalie saves easily.

1:01PM

2 mins - Belgium 0 Tunisia 0

Belgium win a free-kick inside 30 seconds about 35 yards out. This could be dangerous!

De Bruyne curls it into the box... but basically just kicks the ball straight to the goalkeeper. A poor start by him.

1:00PM

KICK_OFF.exe

Here we go! How many VAR penalties will we get in this game? Only time will tell! 

Belgium, wearing yellow, get the game started.

12:57PM

National anthems time

The players are on the pitch and now is time for Gianni Infantino to act like he's as important as an actual prime minister or president. Look at him in his suit next to world leaders. Thinks he's so cool.

Anyway, this song should get you pumped for the match:

 Tunisia give the anthem some proper welly and the manager even breaks into tears. They win the 'battle of the anthems' this time. But what about the battle of the soccerball? 

12:52PM

Zabaleta on Hazard

"One of the toughest opponents I would say to play against. He's so good especially on the turn and the way he drives the ball forward, he can go past two, three players and is so composed. When you play against a player like Hazard he doesn't think twice, he just takes it."

12:51PM

Why did Chelsea make such a big mistake with De Bruyne?

Lampard:

"I don't think they missed it. We were there at the time. There was an embarrassment of riches, Oscar etc. He was getting restless... of course he slipped the net." 

12:45PM

Belgium vs Tunisia tactics

belgium vs tunisia

 Frank Lampard has pointed out how Tunisia close down the man on the ball in numbers to try and limit their passing options. What ends up happening with that three man defence is someone is left spare on the opposite side of the pitch. A quick pass to that wing and the defender can carry the ball out from the back into heaps of space.  Belgium should be able to exploit that.

12:42PM

Dan Walker is too tall

 

12:42PM

This BBC chat is tremendous

We are talking about Belgium here but the BBC panel is looking at England's options for their game against Panama. Gary Lineker has revealed that he's watched Ruben Loftus-Cheek since he was 11 because he played in the same team as his son, saying "I told him that if this kid doesn't make it I'd be really surprised".

Meanwhile, in the other game in Group G, our man Sam Wallace has written this on another player who struggled to cut it at Chelsea despite huge potential.

12:30PM

Frank Lampard

I'm paraphrasing this a little bit because my hands aren't typing as quickly as I want to yet. I'm getting warmed up. Don't worry. Anyway, Lampard has revealed his long, arduous journey from a comfortable upper-middle class background.

"I went to a private school in Essex so I feel bad compared to these guys! What I did have was a father who pushed me. 

"It was a real eye opener when Chelsea became a bit more cosmopolitan and Didier etc came in, we maybe didn't realise how easy we had it because they told us stories about back home and you see how lucky you are."

12:28PM

Ex-pros on their journey

Pablo Zabaleta

"We have a dream to play in Europe to play in the greatest league in the world. And it's really tough because you have to leave your friends, your family. I was 21 and I cannot complain, I went to Barcelona to Espanyol! You have to be mature for this, be a tough person for those moments."

12:27PM

But who is going to win this game?

Find out here! 

12:26PM

Romelu Lukaku interview

The BBC have an incredible interview with Romelu Lukaku on screen at the moment. He reveals things like when he realised his family was broke, how he used to share football boots with his dad and a really sad story about how his granddad died just days before he signed a professional football deal - the contract he kept telling his mum would change their lives once he got it. Good lad. He's come a long way.

Didier Drogba is his hero too and is talking about meeting Lukaku.

"He came up to me and said 'oh I know this goal, this minute you scored'. I remember it very well. He said 'I remember it because I was nine at that time'! I was 34. Like, man. Time flies."

 

12:10PM

Belgium unchanged

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez picks the same side that beat Panama, whilst Tunisia makes just two changes from the side that lost to England. 

Goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha comes in for Mouez Hassen, while Naim Sliti makes way for  Saîf-Eddine Khaoui.

11:57AM

Location, location, location

Nine days in and fans have had a chance to see every stadium in action. 

They're glorious aren't they? 

The red and white Spartak Stadium looks tailor made for a match between Belgium, who play in red today, and Tunisia, who play in white.

World Cup 2018 stadium: Spartak Stadium

11:43AM

And on the ninth day...

A warm welcome to another day of World Cup football.

It can be unusually cruel at times, the World Cup, as we've already seen Morocco, Egpyt, and fan favourites Peru crash out. After so much waiting, so much preparation, and so many miles travelled, it can all be over so quickly.

Today, Tunisia must win to have any realistic chance of staying in Russia. Lose, and they put their hopes on Panama beating England. As any England supporter will tell you, there's no chance that'll happen - I'm not sure if you've heard but, football's coming home. 

Tunisia fans ahead of their side's second World Cup match against Belgium Credit: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

A lot of the drama at this World Cup has had little to do with the football so far. VAR and leaked team sheets have dominated the headlines, but Russia is screaming out for someone to grab it by the horns and put in a display fit for a champion.

It could certainly be star-studded Belgium, unbeaten in their past ten World Cup group-stage matches. This a golden generation to envy, as they're bursting with so much talent that even Mousa Dembele, brilliant this year (and any year) for Tottenham, didn't get in the starting lineup in their first match against Panama. 

Belgium won anyway, with all three goals in a 3-0 win coming in the second half where we saw glimpses of what this side is capable of. Kevin De Brunye, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku started to replicate the kind of form we're used to seeing in the Premiership - frightening.

They can seal qualification to the second round with a win today, and start fulfilling some of the potential their squad promises.

Tunisia's defense will certainly have their work cut out for them, but expect a higher line than we saw them play against England as they're forced to go out and find a winner. 

Belgium fans ahead of their match against Tunisia Credit: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

One thing you can count on at the Russia 2018 World Cup is that the fans will be up for it. They've absolutely stolen the show so far, so expect another great display of support for both sides at the Spartak Stadium.