The 2022/23 Nations League is in full swing with this derby clash the latest in a long line of intriguing match-ups this month.
There has been plenty of criticism of the sport’s summer calendar, as well as of the tournament’s existence itself, but either way Belgium and the Netherlands can take tonight’s clash in Brussels as a key litmus test of their credentials.
It was a disappointing Euros for both teams last summer as Roberto Martinez’s side once again failed to live up to their golden generation credentials. The Dutch, meanwhile, impressed in the group stage before dropping out at the hands of the Czech Republic in the last-16.
That said, it is an improvement for Louis van Gaal and Co that they are back in the World Cup mix after comfortably securing qualification for a spot at Qatar later this year.
Poland and Wales complete the Nations League group in which these teams will compete for top spot and a place at next year’s finals.
Therefore tonight’s clash will go a long way to deciding which is the team to beat, both Belgium and the Netherlands having previously made it to the tournament’s showpiece event.
Premier Sports will broadcast the match live with kick-off set for 7.45pm BST.
Keep up to date with all the action via Standard Sport’s live blog…
34 mins: Another decent opening goes begging as Netherlands come down the middle and Bergwijn controls nicely, spins in the D and lays it off for Berghuis. His attempt flies over the corner of the bar.
29 mins: CLOSE!
Depay does well down the left and tees up Blind… a fine hit across goal misses the post by a mere inch!
Again they come forward in numbers but no final ball comes into the box. The Dutch on top in the past ten minutes.
26 mins: Lukaku will not be able to continue!
That tangle with Ake appears to have got the better of the Chelsea striker and he will be replaced by Trossard.
25 mins: Bergwijn lets another accurate ball into the box go begging as he fumbles it off his mid-riff in the six-yard box.
The game has certainly woken up to suggest goals are up for grabs for both teams.
21 mins: Boos ring around the stadium after a long ball towards Lukaku bounced in front of the striker, as he tangled with Ake.
The two players are going at it with the shirt grapples and Lukaku looks to have broken free, yet hits the deck dramatically – and has his protests waved away by the Spanish referee.
Replays suggest there was not much in that yet he requires treatment.
16 mins: SAVE!
Mignolet to the rescue after sloppy play from De Bruyne, Berghuis racing in down the right channel and his effort across goal meets the keeper’s foot, to divert it over the bar.
Netherlands come back moments later and Depay controls a cross to drive his shot wide of the near-post.
A bit of action at both ends!
13 mins: POST!
Ake is less persuasive with his next clearance and Castagne latches onto it, firing against the near-post from close range!
11 mins: It has been a calm, chilled out start to this game in the summer evening sun.
Bergwijn looks to spark the game into life after a header into the box and finds Boyata cutting across him to smartly guide the ball back to his goalkeeper.
Up the other end, Lukaku races free into the box but Ake emulates Boyata’s rush back to hold off the striker and see off the threat.
7 mins: Hazard, in his first start since January, has a chance to put in a cross from the left-wing byline but it is overhit and the Dutch bring it clear.
That sparks a spell of possession for Belgium with Lukaku the target man for occasional hits long.
4 mins: A confident start from the Dutch in possession with De Bruyne very high up in the pitch in Belgium’s press.