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The Belgian ‘calm’ represents a stormy investigation from Romania

HAMBURG, Germany: Belgium have tried to project an image of calm after losing their opening match at the European Championship but must worry about another early tournament elimination as they prepare to face Romania in Cologne on Saturday.

A surprise defeat to Slovakia has left Belgium behind in Group E and they now face exuberant Romania, who stunned Ukraine 3-0 on Monday.

“I can’t tell the team much about what needed to be improved,” coach Domenico Tedesco said after the defeat, in which missed opportunities came back to haunt the coveted Belgians.

Jan Vertonghen said Belgium certainly has the players to get a result.

“I would be worried if we don’t have the quality, so I am confident we will score on Saturday,” the experienced defender added ahead of the match.

Despite that confidence, Belgium will be concerned about the possibility of another early exit, after crashing at the first hurdle at the World Cup in Qatar less than two years ago.

Given the quality at their disposal, and having come through the qualifiers unbeaten, Belgium would be expected to advance, but top scorer Romelu Lukaku must find his range, while captain Kevin De Bruyne must increase the pace in midfield if they want to dominate. Romania.

The victory over Ukraine was only the second time Romania had won a match at a European Championship and came 24 years after their first: a 3-2 victory over England at Euro 2000.

Captain and Man of the Match Nicolae Stanciu set them on their way to a memorable victory over Ukraine in their opener on Monday with a superb long-range strike and will have added the motivation to try and repeat that against Belgium.

Stanciu was the most expensive transfer in Belgian club football when he moved to Anderlecht in 2016, but was later labeled a 10 million euro ($10.73 million) flop and sold after 18 months.

Romania, who have other potential match winners such as Denis Dragus and Valentin Mihaila, went through the qualifying campaign unbeaten to finish top of the group ahead of Switzerland, losing just once in their past 16 matches.

“This is the generation of the soul. This team has made the greatest effort in everything,” Romanian coach Edward Iordanescu said after they defeated Ukraine.

He will certainly be even more excited if Belgium is added to their list of conquests.

($1 = 0.9320 euros)

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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