Russia coach Stanislas Cherchesov said his counterpart Roberto Martinez still had an unbeatable squad despite the absence of two influential midfield players ahead of their encounter in the opening Group B of the European Football Championship.
De Bruyne did not travel with Belgium to play the first match against Russia in St. Petersburg, where he continues to recover from a fracture in the eye and nose cavity during the final of the Champions League and underwent a small surgery after that before joining his teammates last Monday.
Midfielder Axel Witsel is also recovering from an ankle ligament injury.
Belgium has reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and has been at the top of the FIFA rankings for the last three years.
“They have 18 players from the World Cup squad as far as I know,” Cherchesov told reporters on Friday.
“We are studying them and our goal tomorrow is to appear in the best way possible. We suffered two defeats, but let’s not forget that Belgium is a great team.”
The Russian team suffered a painful blow after it was announced today that defender Roman Yevgenev joined the squad to participate in the European Championship as a replacement for midfielder Andrei Mostovoy, who was infected with the Corona virus.
The spotlight will focus on the tall Russian striker and captain Artem Gueba, who scored 29 goals for his country, becoming only two goals away from being the historical top scorer.
Guiba said that De Bruyne’s absence is a big loss for Belgium, but they are still favorites to top the group.
“I remember how strong the Belgium team is, their organizational abilities and their discipline,” said Guiba. “I know exactly what I have to do during the match. We have the experience and we have analyzed all the matches.”
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