Terrorism cannot stop football. This was witnessed last year when the deadly Paris terror attacks tried to bring to halt all life, including the beautiful game, only to lose out miserably.
The scene of the terror attacks shifted from France to Brussels, capital of Belgium this year. The Belgium national football team was scheduled to take on Portugal at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels Tuesday, but following the March 22 terror attacks, there was tremendous doubt over the international friendly.
The Belgium national team called off their training session scheduled for the evening following the terror attacks. A day later, the match was announced to have been cancelled. However, a ray of hope was provided by the Portuguese Football Federation as it decided to go ahead with the match and host it at the Pessoa Stadium in Leiria, Portugal.
"It's very important the match is being held, and to organise it in Portugal is a very good solution, [sic]" Portugal football team head coach Fernando Santos was quoted as saying by ESPN. "I don't get the impression that during the match the players are going to think about the tragedy and that they won't be able to get away from it during the game.
"The important thing is the signal this match gives, the signal is that football is not afraid, the people are not afraid."
Football is already the winner, and we can now safely focus on the action on the pitch. Belgium, the No 1 team in the world according to the FIFA rankings, will miss a host of star players, including the likes of Christian Benteke, Kevin De Bruyne Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Divock Origi and Jan Vertonghen, but that won't take away any interest from the game.
Portugal, ranked 7 in the world, will have their greatest weapon â€” Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo â€” in their midst but it needs to be seen if Santos is willing to play him for the entire duration of the friendly. Real Madrid take on Barcelona in the second El Clasico of the La Liga season Saturday.
The only major doubt for Portugal remains former Chelsea centre-back Ricardo Carvalho, who was down with flu ahead of the game.
"The result is not the most important thing tomorrow. I want to see discipline, a collective block and good pressing [from the players]," Belgium football team head coach Marc Wilmots told Belgian daily Nieuwsblad. "The solidity of the team interests me. We should not worry too much for the many injured players. If there is a problem, we will find a solution.
"Belgium does not want to lose, Belgium wants to win," the Belgian made his intentions clear.
Where to watch live
International friendly: Belgium vs Portugal is scheduled to kick-off in Leiria at 6:45 p.m. GMT (7:45 p.m. BST, 12:15 a.m. IST, 2:45 p.m. EST) March 29.
In India and the UK, there will be no broadcast of the game. The live scores will be available on the twitter handle of the Belgium football team.
In Belgium, the match will be broadcast on Een and RTBF. Live streaming will be available on RTBF LiveCentre.
In Portugal, the match will be broadcast on RTP 1.
In the USA, viewers can watch the game on ESPN Deportes TV and ESPN 3. The live streaming is available on Watch ESPN.