Kevin De Bruyne admitted he was bored playing Belgium’s opponent Wales on Thursday, and said it seemed like half of his international matches were against the same opponent.
Belgium welcomes Wales to Brussels on Thursday in what will be the ninth meeting between the two teams since September 2012, and their fourth competitive match in the last 18 months alone.
The Nations League match comes after regular matches in World Cup qualifiers and the European Championship in recent seasons. The two teams also met famously in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, When Wales won 3-1 on one of the greatest nights in football history.
“I think half of my international career has been against Wales,” said Manchester City midfielder De Bruyne. “I don’t know why. It’s a bit boring. I think it’s 12 times I’ve played with them, it’s always the same teams.”
De Bruyne also said that these last two matches before the World Cup will not have much impact Belgium’s preparations for the World CupRoberto Martinez’s key players have been playing together for years at international level.
“I don’t think it makes much of a difference anymore,” De Bruyne said of the significance of the next two matches against Wales and the Netherlands. “We have played with the same team for years and years. We are just trying to finish the two matches as best we can and prepare for the World Cup.”
Belgium is seen as one of the strongest teams in the Qatar World Cup, being placed in a group that includes Croatia, Canada and Morocco.
The team are currently second in their Nations League group, behind the Netherlands, while Wales are fourth after opting instead to prioritize their World Cup playoff against Ukraine in the summer.
Wales manager Robert Page said yesterday He is “afraid” of choosing his team for the World Cup Because of the competition for places.
Injured quartet Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies, Harry Wilson and Joe Allen will miss the upcoming matches with Belgium and Poland, but fitness permitting, they are sure to make up Wales’ 26-man squad for Qatar.
“I’m really scared [selecting] It’s 26 for the World Cup because we have a lot of great players in a group of 30 or 32 and more,” Page said.
“You just have to be honest with the guys. You’re not going to please everyone. That’s the hard part of the job. We have a great group. They know it’s not going to be personal when I have to make those decisions, but it’s hard to please them all.”
Page bolstered his squad this week by calling up teenage midfielders Luke Harris and Jordan James for the first time. Harris, who only turned 17 in April, has an impressive scoring record for Fulham’s age group teams and made his first-team debut for the Premier League side last month.
Hereford-born James, aged 18, has impressed Birmingham in the tournament and is back in the Wales squad after playing for England’s Under-20 team in March.
Wales faces a tough battle to avoid relegation from the first division in the Nations League. The late goals he conceded against Poland and the Netherlands, twice, in June left them with just one point from four matches.
But even if they lose to Belgium, with whom they drew 1-1 in Cardiff three months ago, a win against Poland on Sunday could be enough to secure a stay in the Premier League.
For that to happen, Poland will have to lose at home to the Netherlands on Thursday.
“(The relegation) won’t be a disaster, we’ll be done. We always look back to the first two games. There are points we could have picked up there, I think so hard. But the bigger picture, because of that, we then had to change our narrative a little bit,” Page said. .
“We gave these guys experience and played in matches against the top teams and benefited from that. We gave ourselves a fighting chance to stay in the division, and our full focus is on that.”