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Early Argentina, Dutch survive

Five Aside
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 By Nick Ames

Bale making Wales believe after win over Belgium

Gareth Bale takes advantage of an awful mistake in the back made by Radja Nainggolan to see his side earn three points that takes them to the top of Group B in European Championship Qualifying.
ESPNFC's Tommy Smyth marks our card for this weekend's Euro qualifiers.

Three observations from Wales' 1-0 triumph over Belgium in Euro 2016 qualifying.

1. This feels like Wales' time

The roar that erupted inside Cardiff City Stadium at full-time, after Wales had defended a late flurry of Belgian corners that included a futile sortie upfield from Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, took the breath away. This will go down as a famous night in the country's football history if -- as seems likely now -- Chris Coleman's team sees out its final four Euro 2016 qualifiers...

Raphael Varane and Laurent Koscielny poor as France wilt against Belgium

Despite a late flurry of goals from France, the damage was done early on by Belgium.

We may have seen the future 2016 Euro winner tonight at the Stade de France, and it is not the one most thought it would be!

France and Belgium are two very similar teams. Not so much in terms of profiles and style of play, but they are both young, ambitious, positive and incidentally both went out in the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Brazil last year with the feeling that they could have gone further (France vs. Germany and Belgium vs. Argentina).

Didier Deschamps, France's head coach, said...

Michy Batshuayi: Marseille forward has raw materials to be an attacking force

Michy Batshuayi has scored six goals in 17 Ligue 1 games this season.

Background information:

Michy Batshuayi opened the scoring with a razor-sharp turn and finish and added another just before half-time in Marseille's impressive 6-1 win away to Toulouse on Friday. After that two-goal salvo, the 21-year-old will be hopeful of retaining his place in Marcelo Bielsa's starting XI for the trip to league leaders Olympique Lyonnais this coming weekend.

Batshuayi's path to Ligue 1 has been far from smooth. He was born in Brussels to Congolese parents, and joined the Anderlecht...

 By Michael Cox

Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen epitomise Belgian school of defending

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots talks to the media after 1-1 draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina in their Euro 2016 qualifying match in Zenica on Monday.

Not all sports blend international and club competition as seamlessly as football, where it's become extremely common for players to be teammates, then opponents, within the same week. How do you spend Sunday, Monday and Tuesday working on understanding and cohesion with a teammate, before setting out to overpower them the following weekend?

This Saturday's contest between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, the weekend's opening Premier League game, is a perfect example. A match between two...

Belgium disappointed but not dejected

Having finally shown what they can really do, the quarterfinals turned out to be the end of the line for the Red Devils. All in all, there is much to be happy about for Belgian fans. Belgium showed in the group phase that they have what it takes to grind out a result. They don't give anything away at the back and have the players up front to decide a game with a flash of individual brilliance.

Strangely, though, having won Group H with maximum points they were still criticized, not least by the press...

Assessment: Belgium making progress

Belgium had been picked by many as a team with an outside chance of lifting the World Cup trophy, but it was not to be, and Argentina eliminated them in a tight quarterfinal. Here is ESPNFC blogger Wim Van Walle's verdict on the brighter points of the campaign, as well as what went wrong.

One sentence: World Cup recap

Belgium's young team of course have reason to be disappointed but have done enough in Brazil to hold their heads up with pride.

Star Man

Although Kevin De Bruyne, Dries Mertens, Divock...