Attractive set-up has its limitations
Roberto Martinez began the qualifying campaign with a 4-3-3 formation in Cyprus, then switched to 3-4-2-1 against Bosnia and stuck with it for the rest of the campaign.
This set-up leads to an attractive style of football, with the wing-backs getting forward at every opportunity, and it saw Belgium score 43 times in qualifying – albeit against relatively weak opposition.
However, problems occur when the opposition has a majority of the possession. That happened in a friendly with Mexico and led to criticism from Kevin De Bruyne. He argued that, as the wing-backs were forced back, there were no links between defence and attack. De Bruyne, and others, fear that this could happen again in Russia.
Martinez does have the option of beefing up midfield by bringing in an extra body – either Radja Nainggolan or Mousa Dembele, or even both – and switching to either a 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 formation. Playing with two strikers has been tried briefly with Michy Batshuayi operating alongside Romelu Lukaku.
The ultimate Plan B is, of course, the introduction of Marouane Fellaini – an option chosen by many managers in the past few years.
Option... Mousa Dembele
Twin strikers.. Michy Batshuayi