Belgium vs Russia – Euro 2020 Preview
The number 1 ranked side in the world Belgium, come here in what may be their golden generations last chance to deliver a 1st major tournament win. Belgium were perfect in qualifying playing 10 and winning 10, scoring 40 goals (the most of any team in qualifying) and conceding 3 goals (the joint least of any team in qualifying), basically their qualifying campaign could not have gone better. They are a side with class all over the pitch, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid) and defenders Jan Vertonghen (Benfica) and Toby Alderweireld (Spurs) add sturdiness to the defence with players like Eden Hazzard (Real Madrid), Romelu Lukaku (Inter), Youri Tielemans (Leicester) and of course Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) adding to one of the most potent attacking threats in this years competition. Managed by Roberto Martinez who has seen the side score 167 goals in his 56 games in charge, Belgium supporters will be hoping that this is the year their golden generation finally deliver on the big stage.
Russia reached the semi-finals of the 2008 European Championships and were very impressive in qualifying as they won 8 of their last 10 games, the worrying part of their qualifying campaign was that they lost twice to the same side, and that side was Belgium, though Russia did score in both losses, so they will be hopeful or causing an upset. Manager Stanislas Cherchesov has a win rate of over 40% and he represented Russia as a player in the 1994 World Cup and 1996 European Championship, so he knows what it means to be on this stage.
The referee for this game is Antonio Mateu, who this season has taken charge of 27 games, and given 124 yellow and 3 red cards, an average of 4.59 yellow cards per game and 0.11 red cards per game. In his career he has refereed 286 games, giving 1333 yellow cards and 60 red cards, an average of 4.66 yellow cards per game and 0.21 red cards per game.
Belgium will be without Kevin De Bruyne in this game, but I still feel they have the class to see off what is sure to be a stubborn Russian side. With Russia you know what you are going to get, its unlikely they will break you down playing 1 and 2 touch football, but they will compete for every ball and present a physical challenge. I don’t feel it will be a walk over for Belgium as Russia scored in both games against them in qualifying, but I feel the fire power this Belgium side have will be enough to get them over the line with a 3-1 or maybe a 4-1 win.