I'm bored of playing Wales

I’m bored of playing Wales

Kevin De Bruyne fends off a challenge from Joe Morrell during a qualifier between the two nations ahead of this year’s World Cup – Kevin De Bruyne admits he’s bored playing Wales – AP

Kevin De Bruyne has admitted he is bored playing Belgium’s rival Wales on Thursday and has said he feels like half of his internationals have been against the same opponent.

Belgium host Wales in Brussels on Thursday in what will be the teams’ ninth meeting since September 2012 and their fourth official match in the last 18 months alone.

The Nations League clash comes after regular fixtures in World Cup and European Championship qualifiers in recent seasons. The two teams also met in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, when Wales won 3-1 on one of the best nights in their footballing history.

“I think half my international career has been against Wales,” said De Bruyne, the Manchester City midfielder. “I do not know why. It is a bit boring. I think there are 12 times that I have played them, they are always the same teams”.

De Bruyne also said that these last two games before the World Cup will not have a significant impact on Belgium’s preparations for the World Cup, as the main players of Roberto Martinez’s team have been playing together for years at international level. .

“I think it doesn’t make as much of a difference anymore,” De Bruyne said of the importance of his upcoming games against Wales and the Netherlands. “We have been playing with the same team for years and years. We just try to finish the two games as well as possible and prepare for the World Cup.”

Belgium will be considered one of the strongest teams at the World Cup in Qatar, where they have been placed in a group with Croatia, Canada and Morocco.

They currently sit second in their Nations League group, behind the Netherlands, while Wales are fourth after choosing to prioritize their World Cup play-off match against Ukraine in the summer.

Wales manager Robert Page said yesterday that he is “afraid” of selecting his team for the World Cup due to competition for places.

Injured quartet Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies, Harry Wilson and Joe Allen will miss the forthcoming matches with Belgium and Poland but, fitness permitting, will surely make part of Wales’ 26-man squad in Qatar.

“I’m already afraid [selecting] the 26 for the World Cup because we have so many great players in the 30 or 32 group, and more,” Page said.

“You just have to be honest with the players. You’re not going to please everyone. That’s the hard part of the job. We have a great group. They know it won’t be anything personal when he has to make those decisions, but it’s hard to keep everyone happy.”

Page has bolstered his squad this week by calling up teenage midfielders Luke Harris and Jordan James for the first time. Harris, who turned 17 in April, has an impressive scoring record for Fulham age teams and made his first-team debut for the Premier League club last month.

Hereford-born 18-year-old James has impressed with Birmingham in the Championship and has returned to the Welsh setup after playing for England Under-20s in March.

Wales face an uphill battle to avoid relegation from the top flight of the Nations League. The last goals conceded against Poland and the Netherlands, twice, in June have left them with just one point from four games.

But even if they lose to Belgium, with whom they drew 1-1 in Cardiff three months ago, beating Poland on Sunday could be enough to ensure their survival in the top flight.

However, for that to happen, Poland would have to lose at home to the Dutch on Thursday.

Page said: “(The relegation) will not be a disaster, we will pick ourselves up. We always look back to the first two games. There are points we could have picked up there, I strongly believe. But the big picture is that because of that, we had to change our narrative a little bit.

“We’ve given these guys experience and playing in games against top teams and using that as a benefit. We have given ourselves the opportunity to fight to remain in the division, and our total focus is on that.”

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