Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Battle Is on between the Tank and Beast for Lead Role in Brazil

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Battle Is on between the Tank and Beast for Lead Role in Brazil

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Johnson Football Correspondent

AT Stamford Bridge tonight, The Tank and The Beast will do battle in the hope of getting a shot at a world crown next year.

It sounds like the kind of billing one would see to promote a duel between wrestlers but it actually involves two of Belgium's finest strikers.

In the blue corner there is Romelu Lukaku (nicknamed The Tank), who hopes to earn his first start of the season for Chelsea and lead the line in place of Fernando Torres.

Wearing claret and blue for Aston Villa will be Christian Benteke (known as The Beast), fresh from his double in the win over Arsenal at the weekend.

As far as their respective club managers are concerned, Jose Mourinho and Paul Lambert, securing another three points is all that matters to them.

However, it would be understandable if these two youngsters have Belgium ambitions in the back of their minds. For while they have a good relationship off the pitch, on it they are involved in an intense rivalry with a starting place at the World Cup in Brazil on the line.

With three games remaining, Belgium are on course to qualify automatically for the tournament from Group A and their coach, Marc Wilmots, is bound to take a keen interest in tonight's proceedings at the Bridge.

While both are regular members of the squad, Wilmots usually plays only one of them due to his preference for a 4-3-3 formation.

It means he can accommodate the trickery of Chelsea duo Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne, as well as Nacer Chadli and Kevin Mirallas in the side.

Of the two, Lukaku is the one who needs to impress most for Wilmots has tended to prefer his rival during the qualifiers.

The 20-year-old put himself in the limelight by earning a place in Chelsea's squad on the back of scoring 17 League goals on loan at West Brom last term.

But Benteke outshone him by amassing 19 in his first season at Aston Villa and showed it was no fluke with his performance at Emirates Stadium.

Unfortunately for Lukaku, he failed to shine when named in the first XI for Belgium's friendly against France last week, dealing a blow to his chances of starting the key games against Scotland, Croatia and Wales next month and in October. …

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