Belgium will take on Russia in the UEFA Euro 2020 Group B Match on June 13 at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
After much speculation and following a one-year delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Championships are set to begin from June 12.
Belgium will be entering the competition not as dark horses as they have often been labelled in the past, but among the favourites to lift the prestigious trophy.
They beat Croatia 1-0 in an international friendly warmup game the other night. Belgium’s golden generation has reaped immense rewards for them and they are currently number one in FIFA’s World Rankings.
Belgium finished third in the 2018 World Cup and the last dance for its golden generation begins at the exact same venue where their last push for a major trophy ended.
Russia, meanwhile, would like to better their performance from the 2018 World Cup held at home. The hosts surprised everyone when they defeated Spain on penalties in the Round of 16. However, they lost to eventual runners-up Croatia on penalties in the quarterfinal in Sochi.
Russia should be in the mix to finish second in Group B along with Denmark. Even if they fail to do so, they will be among the third-placed teams in the contention to push further.
They began their campaign as hosts of the 2018 World Cup with a spectacular 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia. It remains to be seen whether they can pull off an upset in front of the home crowd this time around.
BELGIUM’S FORM AHEAD OF EURO 2020
Belgium had the perfect Euro 2020 Qualifying campaign since they won all 10 of their matches in Group I and ended up topping the table.
Coincidentally, Belgium were also placed with Russia in the same group. The Red Devils defeated Russia 3-1 and 4-1 during the qualifying campaign. They also scored 40 goals and conceded only thrice!
In the UEFA Nations League, Belgium lost just one match and that was against England. With five wins and a loss, they are comfortably placed on top of Group 2. Belgium have a five-point lead over Denmark and Russia in the group.
Roberto Martinez’s side is also undefeated after three matches in their World Cup qualifying campaign. In their pre-Euro warmup friendlies, Belgium shared a 1-1 stalemate with Greece but won 1-0 against Croatia. Safe to say, there will be no shortage of confidence in the side ahead of Euro 2020.
Form guide (last five matches): W-D-W-D-W
BELGIUM’S PROBABLE TACTICS AND LINEUP AGAINST RUSSIA
Belgium’s talismanic midfielder Kevin De Bruyne might have to miss this match because of a facial fracture suffered in the Champions League final. Meanwhile, star forward Eden Hazard’s stock has dipped massively since his move to Real Madrid and he has spent the bulk of the last two seasons injured and out of form.
However, Belgium have an insane squad depth and they’ll do just fine without their star players in this match.
In the absence of De Bruyne and Axel Witsel, Leander Dendoncker and Youri Tielemans are expected to provide protection to the three-man defence and offer creative options for their forwards. Tielemans will be tasked with creative responsibilities and needs to find gaps with his passes through a relentless Russian defence.
Yannick Carrasco, who was tremendous in Atletico Madrid’s La Liga-winning run, will be asked to stretch the play on the wings and win his 1v1 battles with the full-back in order to get into threatening positions.
Out front, the form of Romelu Lukaku will be Belgium’s biggest asset in Euro 2020. The Inter Milan striker has been among the most in-form forwards in Europe and his 1.09 goals + assists per 90 minutes this season for Inter is the highest of his career.
Lukaku is world-class both at starting moves as well as finishing them off and he’d be instrumental in this fixture as well without a doubt.
Belgium Probable Playing XI (3-4-3): Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jason Denayer, Jan Vertonghen, Timothy Castagne, Youri Tielemans, Leander Dendoncker, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Dries Mertens, Thorgan Hazard, Romelu Lukaku
RUSSIA’S FORM AHEAD OF EURO 2020
Russia finished second in Group I in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign and both of their defeats arrived against Belgium. Russia finished the qualifiers with 33 goals scored and just eight conceded.
They then had an inconsistent run in UEFA Nations League. In six matches, Russia won twice, drew twice, and lost twice. With eight points, they are second in Group 3 of League B behind Hungary.
Russia are also second in Group H of the World Cup qualifying campaign behind Croatia. With two wins and a loss from three matches played so far, they share the same points with the 2018 World Cup runners-up.
Stanislav Chercheshov’s side were also unbeaten in the recent pre-Euro friendly matches. They drew 1-1 with Poland but ended up beating Bulgaria 1-0
Form guide (last five matches): W-D-L-W-W
RUSSIA’S PROBABLE TACTICS AND LINEUP AGAINST BELGIUM
At the Euros, Russia will probably try to implement the same approach that got them to the knockout rounds in the 2018 World Cup at home – through tireless running across two banks of four, defending deep and compact, and quick-burst of counter attacks.
Both Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin are key to this style of play. Team captain Dzyuba is likely to find himself isolated for most of the duration during matches as Russia defend with numbers in behind.
However, whenever in possession, they will try to look for Dzyuba whose hold-up play allows Golovin to make the runs in space. If their chemistry works, it could do wonders for the side.
Russia Probable Playing XI (4-2-3-1): Anton Shunin, Igor Diveyev, Georgi Dzhikiya, Fyodor Kudryashov, Mario Fernandes, Roman Zobnin, Magomed Ozdoyev, Yuri Zhirkov, Aleksei Miranchuk, Aleksandr Golovin, Artem Dzyuba
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