Russia will be looking to put a dent to Belgium’s quest for a first major international trophy as both countries square off in Saint Petersburg.
European Championship 2020
Venue: Gazprom Arena
Belgium come into another major tournament as one of the favorites to win it all, as they so often are, and are expected to breeze through the group stages.
But this Belgian ‘golden generation’ are yet to make good on expectations. They haven’t reached a major final before but after finishing third in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, they’ll be hoping to go one better in reaching the finals, and another one better in winning the Euros.
Roberto Martinez’ side are playing some of their best football at the moment and are currently on a nine-match unbeaten streak. With the current Serie A MVP, Romelu Lukaku and English PFA Player of the Year, Kevin de Bruyne in their squad, fans of the Red Devils will be feeling very confident leading up to this tie.
Russia come into another major tournament on the back of hosting their very first World Cup just three years ago. In 2018, Russia had the burden of being the host nation and had certain expectations to fulfill.
Arguably they did, providing thrilling performances before being eliminated in the quarterfinals on penalties to eventual runners up, Croatia. Yet, most people aren’t expecting much from Russia this time around but they’re still expected to come out of the group even though no one expects them to beat Belgium. Russia are billed as the away side for this tie but with the match taking place at Saint Petersburg, be rest assured there would be thousands of screaming Russians cheering their country on.
Russia breezed through the qualifying stage, winning eight of their ten group games, recording two defeats. Those defeats came at the hands of Belgium however, and they’ll be looking to gain a measure of revenge of sorts with a win over them in the main stages of the competition.
De Bruyne is likely to miss the match against Russia after undergoing eye surgery for the facial injury he sustained in the Champions League final.
And then Axel Witsel and Eden Hazard’s injury woes are well documented. Even though they are in the squad, Martinez will be cautious of throwing either of them straight at the deep end.
Russia have the full luxury of their 26 players, with captain Artem Dzyuba and Yuri Zhirkov prominent names therein.
Belgium’s last five games: WDWDW
Russia’s last five games: WWLDW
Russia have failed to beat Belgium in seven historical head-to-head meetings (D2, L5).
Russia have won just one of their last six games when billed as the away side.
Four of the last six meetings between these two countries have ended with both teams scoring, and we’re expecting more of the same on Saturday.
Both teams have scored in four of Belgium’s and four of Russia’s last six international matches, so you can expect not to see a clean sheet after 90 minutes here. Pick the Both Teams To Score market at 10/11.
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