Belgium's forward Eden Hazard (R) challenges France's midfielder Yohan Cabaye during a friendly football match between France and Belgium at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris, on June 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON
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Two national teams cresting historic waves collide in a pivotal 2016 European Championship qualifying match Friday when Group B front-runners Wales and Belgium face off at the Cardiff City Stadium.Belgium, 4-3 winners against France in a friendly last Sunday, rose to a highest-ever position of second in the most recent FIFA ranking, while Wales slipped one place to 22nd from their own highest-ever ranking of 21st.The two teams are level on 11 points at the halfway stage of the qualifying campaign, with Belgium top on goal difference, and Wales' Aaron Ramsey believes that Friday's match is his side's most important in a decade.Both teams boast experienced Premier League defenders and rely on youthful, world-class talent in midfield and attack – Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard for Belgium, Gareth Bale and Ramsey for Wales.They are nonetheless worlds apart in the current pantheon of international football, with Belgium among the favorites to win Euro 2016 and Wales seeking to qualify for a first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup.
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