With their 201 victory at Croatia on Friday, Belgium secured their position at the top of UEFA's group A and clinched their spot for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. As soon as the final whistle blew, Aston Villa fans began breathing again, as it meant that the club's match against Wales on Tuesday would be largely irrelevant. And that, in turn, would probably mean that Christian Benteke would stay on the bench.
Today we've gotten confirmation from Belgian manager Marc Wilmots that Benteke has indeed been ruled out for the match tomorrow. He trained on Friday for the first time since his hip injury against Norwich City a little more than three weeks ago. Nevertheless, it would have been terrible for Aston Villa fans to watch their star player risk himself in what will amount to an international friendly, so it's relieving to receive this news.
Now our attention turns to whether or not the star striker will be ready for Sunday's match, when Tottenham travel to Villa Park. When the same fixture happened a few weeks ago - without Benteke - we all remember that Villa got embarrassed to the tune of 0-4. And I'm sure we also remember the lack of punch in the Villa attack against Hull City two weekends ago. Libor Kozak may eventually be a great striker for this club, but he doesn't appear ready to be quite yet. (And simply hearing Aleksandar Tonev's name is enough to make many of us cringe).
Having Benteke ready for Tottenham wouldn't assure a win, but it would certainly make the loss seem less inevitable.