The group of death at this years tournament promised to Deliver us some tasty looking last 16 ties, and Belgium vs Portugal is one of the results in a game that could easily be the final of a competition like this. With soo much class on show we have the added storyline of Cristiano Ronaldo playing it what could easily be his last European Championships, trying to win international glory after he went off injured in the final 5 years ago, playing against Belgium’s golden generation who after being touted as the group of players who will finally deliver international major tournament glory to their country, find themselves getting dangerously close to their sell by date.
In the group stage Belgium scored 7 goals, conceded 1, had 32 shots with 16 on target, they had an average possession of 60.33%, were given 1 yellow card, no red cards and took 11 corners.
Portugal in their 3 group games scored 7 goals, conceded 6, had 28 shots with 14 on target, they had an average possession of 53%, were given 1 yellow card, no red cards and took 12 corners.
The referee for this game is Felix Brych (Germany), who this season has been the man in the middle of 35 games, handing out 106 yellow cards and 6 red cards, for an average of 3.03 yellow cards per game and 0.17 red cards per game. In his career so far he has taken charge of 325 games, awarding 1194 yellow cards and 73 red cards, for an average of 3.67 yellow cards per game and 0.22 red cards per game.
The bookmakers (All prices taken from Skybet) have Belgium as the 4/6 favourites to make the quarter finals, with Portugal at 11/10.
This could be one of the games of the tournament, with two sides who both scored 7 goals in the group stage and are both seeing 50% of their shots hit the target, we should see some goals. I feel like Belgium are more of a unit and play as a team more than Portugal, but Portugal have far too much class to be writing them off. With world class attacking talent all over the pitch in the shape of Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaka and Eden Hazard for Belgium, then Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal, you have to feel attack may be the best form of defence in this game, as i can’t see either team keeping a clean sheet. Portugal were exposed defensively against Germany and Belgium will feel they can do the same, but Portugal also showed against France that they can keep pace with the best if the game turns into an end to end shoot out (though Portugal were lucky to receive two penalties it has to be said). The reason I feel this will turn into a basketball type game of end to end attacking football is that both teams are naturally attacking teams, should one of these teams take the lead, the other will be in a position where they have to attack and have to score goals, this will lead to them opening up and playing much more attacking football, which then will allow the other team to play on the counter. Both these sides are deadly on the counter attack, and I am sure they will both feel that a 1 goal lead is not enough, so they will look to take advantage should the other present them with counter attacking opportunities. So basically, if one of these sides finds themselves 1 goal up, then we will have one team in a position of having to score otherwise they are out, and the other team in a position of knowing that the 1 goal lead they have is not enough. I see both teams scoring at least 2 goals and would not be surprised to see it end that way and head into extra time and penalties.
The best bets in this game are (All prices taken from Skybet) are
The match to end 2-2 (90 minutes only) – 12/1
Lukaku and Ronaldo both to score (90 minutes only) – 11/2
Both teams to score in both halves (90 minutes only) – 16/1