Belgium’s Tedesco relying on proven returnees for crucial Romania clash

June 21 – Counting on reinforcing their defence, Belgium will need a result in their second Group E encounter against Romania after a shock 1-0 defeat to Slovakia.

The Belgians endured a nightmare defeat to Slovakia after Schranz’s 7th-minute strike proved to be the match-winner, even as Domenico Tedesco’s side ran up chances and disallowed goals.

The Italian-German manager’s starting eleven had been controversial with veteran Yannick Carrasco playing at left-back and Amadou Onana and Orel Mangala forming a defensive pivot in midfield against a team ranked 45 places lower on the FIFA ranking.

Tedesco will have to demonstrate he picks the right lineup against Romania. He will count on the return of veteran defender Jan Vertonghen and left-back Artur Theate.

The manager had no faith in youngster Maxim De Cuper, the only fit left-back in the squad, for the opening game. Tedesco has selected just 24 players for the tournament. Sidelined for a month and a half, both Vertonghen and Theate lack match fitness.

In the build-up to the Romania match, the Belgian camp has remained upbeat – positive in their analysis of the Slovakia defeat and positive in their attitude. The team went for dinner together.

All those positive noises however might be ridiculed if they do not deliver against the Romanians, who come into the game high on confidence and in the knowledge that the three points will guarantee a return to the knockout phase for the first time since Euro 2000.

History proves that an opening defeat need not be disastrous for Belgium. At Euro 2016, Belgium were outwitted by Italy 2-0 in their curtain-raiser before bouncing back to reach the last eight. In Germany, the Belgians and their high world ranking have an obligation advance from the easiest group in the tournament.

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