Group H winners, Belgium, have injury headaches over two of their starting defenders, ahead of their Last 16 tie with USA on Tuesday evening.
Thomas Vermaelen has a knee problem and has been ruled out of the second round fixture, meanwhile Vincent Kompany is struggling with a groin injury.
The two central defenders have both only started one game together so far, as they beat Russia 2-1. However, Vermaelen - who operated at left-back - hobbled out of the game in the first half.
And the Manchester City captain missed the final group game against South Korea altogether.
Thus far, Belgium have won all three of their games, but have yet to really light the tournament up. Without the availability of two of their best defenders, they may struggle against a confident USA side.
USA aim to make history
Jurgen Klinsmann’s side won their opening game against Ghana, before being denied victory by a late Portugal equaliser.
The Americans are vying to reach the quarter finals for the first time since they hosted the World Cup in 1994.
One replacement at centre half is the veteran giant, Daniel van Buyten. The Bayern Munich player is a former teammate of manager, Marc Wilmots, and is experience something of a revival in Brazil.
The 36-year-old has been a fixture of the side in all of their games so far. Aside from a first half penalty against Algeria in the opening match, Belgium haven’t conceded a single goal.
That has been just as well, as they only managed to score once against Russia and South Korea respectively. With Eden Hazard not yet starring in the manner that James Rodriguez, Lionel Messi and Neymar have.
With that in mind, Wilmots could do with having a full strength side to select from. In Kompany and Vermaelen, he could be lacking two top quality players.
The Premier League defenders have both enjoyed several years in English football. If not for a series of injuries, the former Arsenal captain may have been more triumphant.
Kompany: Born leader
However, the Manchester City skipper has had no such difficulties. Since arriving at the Etihad Stadium, he has led the Blues to two titles in three seasons.
Experience like that is vital at a World Cup, especially when it comes to the knockout stages.
Victory over Klinsmann’s side will provide passage through to the final eight of the competition, where they will face the winner of the Argentina - Switzerland contest.
With the prospect of Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Messi on the horizon, Belgium will be hoping that their first choice defenders can return to action sooner rather than later.
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