Euro Betting: Belgium vs Russia, 12 June 20:00
Group Stage | Group B | St Petersburg
The second game of Group B brings Belgium – number 1 in the world rankings – up against Russia. The Belgians will clearly be most people’s favourites for this fixture, and recent history suggests an ominous occasion for the Russians.
Both teams faced each other in qualifying for this competition, and the results were overwhelmingly one-sided. Belgium finished top of the group with maximum points, beating Russia convincingly home and away, 3 -1 and 4 -1 respectively. The fact that it was the first-time ever that Russia had conceded 4 goals on home soil, added major insult to stinging injury.
Belgium aside, Russia’s Euro qualifying campaign was high-scoring and relatively flawless, albeit against weaker opposition, including San Marino, Cyprus, and Kazakhstan. However, with two strong wins over Scotland does point to a team who can ruffle some feathers.
Plus, with Russia still riding a wave after hosting and unexpectedly reaching the 2018 World Cup quarter-finals, Stanislav Cherchesov’s side will be hoping for similar success at this year’s Euros, reaffirming his achievement of being the first Russian coach to take the national side to the knockout stages since the collapse of the USSR.
Squads & Line-ups
This Belgium team have been assigned a somewhat cursed nickname of the ‘Golden Generation.’ The evident talent of players throughout their squad has made them regular and recent favourites for World Cup and European Championship successes.
But, as England fans of a certain age might attest, such names and proclamations can stifle a team to the point of underachievement. Yet, with some of Europe’s undisputed greatest players like Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, and Romelu Lukaku, plus a ridiculous supporting cast of leading Premier League players like Toby Alderweireld, Youri Tielemans, Dennis Praet, and Leandro Trossard, it should take impressive opposition to get the beating of Roberto Martinez’s side.
The Russian perspective looks less promising. Widely considered an ageing squad, it appears they will be relying on the performances of a select few veterans, rather than a balanced team effort.
Forward and team captain, Artem Dzyuba, will be depended on for goals and leadership, particularly after his impressive 9-goal haul during qualifying. On top of that, a lot will be asked of young Monaco starlet, Aleksandr Golovin. The dynamic playmaker is full of creative potential, so could make his mark within this squad of established stars from Russia’s leading domestic top-flight teams.
As we’ve stated, Belgium’s recent record against the Russians is excellent. Yet the case is even stronger with the fact that the Red Devils are simply unbeaten against Russia. You have to go all the way back to the 1970 and 1982 World Cups for the last times the Eastern Europeans got positive competitive results against Belgium, and even then, it was under their old moniker, ‘Soviet Union’ when the team would have been made up of players now considered citizens of other nations. An amazing statistic!
Euro 2020 will be Belgium’s second successive Euro appearance, something they’ve not achieved since 1984. Whereas Russia have better recent pedigree in this competition, with this year being their fifth successive Euro tournament.
So, will the Red Devils see off the Russian Bear to help give their ‘golden generation’ the silverware it craves? Or will Stanislav Cherchesov’s men spoil the party?