Two of the best young strikers in the European game line up against each other this weekend when Everton travel to take on Aston Villa on Saturday.
Both are Belgian, in-form and have a point to prove.
With their nation making the World Cup in Brazil next summer, the duo may well be in direct competition for a lone striker starting berth for Marc Wilmots’ side. The battle between Christian Benteke and Romelu Lukaku should be a captivating one.
Benteke is almost certain to start for the Birmingham-based hosts after featuring off the bench against Tottenham last weekend. The former Genk frontman has recovered from a hip injury, and will be keen to resume strong early season form.
There have been a lot of rumours surrounding Benteke’s club future this week, with top Premier League suitors being joined by the likes of Juventus and Lazio in the reported chase for the player’s hand.
The Villa hitman has netted four times already this season, and if he can get close to the 19 Premier League goals he scored last term, the rumours won’t die down.
For the visitors, a shrewd piece of summer transfer business by Roberto Martinez has secured Lukaku’s signing on a year-long loan deal from Chelsea.
Many, including me, have been surprised with Jose Mourinho’s willingness to allow the former Anderlecht prodigy to leave west London, but Chelsea’s loss is certainly Everton’s gain.
Lukaku has also scored four goals this term, in four appearances, and has openly admitted that he has a point to prove to his parent club. He is dedicated to scoring more goals than the likes of Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba at Stamford Bridge, and looks highly likely to prove his point.
Both players have similar attributes; both are quick, strong and physical, and have proven that given half a chance they know where the back of the net is. For the neutral, a shoot-off between the impressive pair this weekend would make spectacular viewing.
With Belgium employing a bespoke 4-3-3/4-5-1 system in the bulk of the final games of their qualifying campaign, there may well only be space for one designated number nine in the central European team’s starting line-up.
Who that should be is the decision of Wilmots, and this weekend’s clash at Villa Park should be a showcase of the ability of two top strikers.
image: © little-pete