MATCHDAY: Belgium can seal finals spot with win over England

A look at what’s happening around European soccer on Sunday:


Belgium leads Group 2 in the Nations League top tier despite losing to England last month. An 11th straight home win for Roberto Martinez’s world No.1-ranked side would open up an unassailable lead to reach the finals. Second-placed Denmark, which plays Iceland, and England are two points behind Belgium. Playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and forwards Dries Mertens and Romelu Lukaku have joined the squad after sitting out a 2-1 friendly win over Switzerland on Wednesday. Belgium winger Eden Hazard is out with the coronavirus, for which England defender Conor Coady has tested positive. Captain Harry Kane returns to make his 50th England appearance after being rested from the 3-0 victory over Wales in a friendly on Thursday.


Italy will be without its coach and star forward for what could be a decisive Nations League clash against Poland. The two meet in Reggio Emilia knowing victory will likely send it to the finals. Poland tops Group 1 in League A. It is a point above Italy and two above the Netherlands. Italy has been beset by problems heading into these qualifiers because of the coronavirus and injuries. Coach Roberto Mancini is still at home in Rome self-isolating after contracting COVID-19, as is Lazio forward Ciro Immobile, last season’s European Golden Shoe winner. Mancini will again be replaced by assistant coach Alberigo Evani, who was in charge on Wednesday when Estonia was beaten 4-0 in a friendly. Italy will also be without one of its key defenders, the injured Leonardo Bonucci, as it prepares to face one of Europe’s top goalscorers in Robert Lewandowski. A number of other players also withdrew from the squad during the week with injury.


It’s been a miserable start as Netherlands coach for Frank de Boer, who is without a win after four games including a 0-0 draw at Bosnia-Herzegovina last month. The Dutch are third in their four-team group, three points above Bosnia-Herzegovina and two behind second-placed Italy.


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