Belgium drop Eden Hazard for crucial clash with Croatia

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group F - Croatia v Belgium - Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar - December 1, 2022 Belgium's Wout Faes and Leander Dendoncker with teammates on the pitch before the match REUTERS/Albert Gea

AL RAYYAN, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has dropped captain Eden Hazard and resisted the temptation to start lead striker Romelu Lukaku in their decisive World Cup Group F fixture against Croatia on Thursday.

Defender Leander Dendoncker, wing-back Yannick Carrasco and attacking midfielders Leandro Trossard and Dries Mertens come into the side in a major shake-up from Martinez that sees Kevin De Bruyne wear the skipper's armband.

Croatia have kept their same starting XI from the team that thumped Canada 4-1 in their previous fixture, with captain Luka Modric again the key man.

Croatia need only a point to secure their place in the last 16, while that may also be enough for Belgium if Canada pull off a victory over Morocco by three clear goals in the other game in the pool.

Croatia: Dominik Livakovic, Ivan Perisic, Dejan Lovren, Mateo Kovacic, Andrej Kramaric, Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Marko Livaja, Borna Sosa, Josko Gvardiol, Josip Juranovic.

Belgium: Thibaut Courtois, Timothy Castagne, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Meunier, Axel Witsel, Yannick Carrasco, Dries Mertens, Kevin De Bruyne, Leandro Trossard, Leander Dendoncker

Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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