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German and Belgian Stars Face-Off in Friendly Ahead of Champions League Clash



Kimmich and De Bruyne Battle in Germany vs Belgium Friendly

Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne face off for the first of three meetings in as many weeks when Germany host Belgium in an international friendly in Cologne on Tuesday (kick-off: 8.45pm CEST), before the pair lock horns for their clubs in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.

Germany Warmed Up and Ready to Go

A 2-0 win over Peru got Germany warmed up on Saturday, with Werder Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug providing his fourth and fifth goals for his country. Germany coach Hansi Flick has said he doesn’t plan to make any major changes, vowing that “the majority” of the team that started that game in Mainz will also take to the field against Belgium.

After providing an assist on his senior Germany debut, Borussia Dortmund’s in-form wing-back Marius Wolf can be expected to make back-to-back starts, but club-mate Nico Schlotterbeck has withdrawn from the squad because of injury, so Thilo Kehrer comes in. Just ahead of him, stand-in captain Kimmich will be partnered by Bayern Munich teammate Leon Goretzka. Flick confirmed on Monday that Serge Gnabry will assume the attacking role vacated by the cold-stricken Kai Havertz. Teenager Florian Wirtz also features again after starting against Peru.

Belgium Leans on Bundesliga Talent

Skippered by ex-Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg star De Bruyne – now of Manchester City – Belgium got the Domenico Tedesco era off to a flying start on Friday. The Red Devils beat Sweden 3-0 in UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying, in that was the former Schalke and RB Leipzig head coach’s first game since replacing Roberto Martinez following the 2022 World Cup.

The 37-year-old delved into the Bundesliga when naming his first squad, selecting Koen Casteels and Sebastiaan Bornauw of Wolfsburg, Dortmund’s Thomas Meunier and Hertha Berlin’s Dodi Lukebakio. The latter – his club’s 10-goal top scorer in 2022/23 – really caught the eye with assists for two of three Romelu Lukaku efforts and should continue in attack. Casteels, meanwhile, wins his fifth senior cap in the absence of Real Madrid goalkeeper and Belgium No.1, Thibaut Courtois.

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