Russia couldn’t have hoped for a tougher start to Euro 2020, as they host Belgium at the Gazprom Arena on Saturday evening. Sbornaya lost twice to this opponent during their qualification campaign and will seek revenge, but the Red Devils seem stronger than ever.
Where and when: Gazprom Arena – 12 June, kick-off 20:00
Where you can see Belgium vs. Russia: ITV
Last time: These countries shared the same Euro qualifying group back in 2019. Belgium dominated both games thanks to a 3-1 victory at home before earning 4-1 triumph in Saint Petersburg.
Belgium v Russia Predictions and Preview
Coming off an impressive third-place finish from the 2018 World Cup, Belgium enter Euro 2020 as one of the candidates to go all the way. The Red Devils are the favorites in what otherwise appears to be a well-balanced Group B that also includes Russia, Denmark and Finland.
Belgium stormed past the qualifications, winning 10 out of 10 and scoring 40 goals against Scotland, Cyprus, Kazahtan, San Marino and their first Euro 2020 opponent Russia.
Roberto Martinez’s men were extremely dominant and conceded only three goals in all of those games, so it’s no surprise that Belgium are 4/6 favorites to top Group B.
While those results took place almost two years ago, Belgium have arguably looked even more impressive ever since. The Devils suffered only one defeat in the 23-games after the 2018 World Cup – a 2-1 loss against England and they even beat the Three Lions by 2-0 shortly after that.
Belgium’s fine form was also confirmed by their 1-0 victory against the current world vice-champions Croatia earlier this week. Romelu Lukaku scored his 60th international goal, but the highlight of the game was Belgium’s defensive display. The defense is considered to be the team’s weakest link with only four clean sheets in the last 15 games, but Roberto Martinez’s back three looked rock-solid against Croatia.
Up front Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard , Dries Mertens and Lukaku form one of the deadliest attacks, as Belgium have scored at least one goal in 30 consecutive games.
|Our Eurotips||Odds||Free bets||Bookie|
Belgium to win and over 2 goals
Belgium to score in both halves
Lukaku to score first
On the other hand Russia, who came off a surprising quarter-final run at the World Cup on home soil, have decreased rapidly since 2018.
37-year-old ex-Chelsea starlet Yuri Zhirkov continues to be irreplaceable at left-back, while influential right-back Mario Fernandes suffered a hip injury and is missing the Euro. Experienced goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and center-back Sergei Ignashevich retired, while star men like Aleksey Miranchuk and Aleksander Golovin have struggled for consistency and playing time since moving to Atalanta and Monaco respectively.
Sbornaya needed a late penalty to secure a 1-0 win against a struggling Bulgaria side last week and this was only their third victory in their last 11 games. This record contradicts with Russia’s results during the qualifications, as they won eight out of 10 and scored 33 times to earn a second-place finish.
Nevertheless, the Russians were inferior to Belgium even back in 2019 as they lost both of their games. Even Sbornaya’s home advantage on Saturday will count for little, as the game will be played at the Gazprom Arena – the exact same venue where the last meeting between the two sides took place and Belgium won by 4-1.
Recent form, individual quality and head-to-head encounters are all against Russia, so placing a bet at 4/6 for a Belgium victory is a good option. The draw is rated at 27/10, while if you think that Sbornaya can upset the odds you can bet on Russia to win at 9/2 with Willian Hill
One to watch for Belgium: Romelu Lukaku is arguably coming off his best-ever season that saw him score 39 goals for club and country. Nine of those strikes were for Belgium, so its no surprise that the Inter Milan striker is a 14/5 favorite to open the score against Russia on Saturday.
One to watch for Russia: Artem Dzuyba is a 5/1 to score the opener against Belgium at the home ground of his club Zenit Saint Petersburg – the Gazprom Arena. The 32-year-old striker is Russia’s second-highest goalscorer with 29 strikes, trailing only to Aleksandr Kerzhakov by just one goal.
Long shot: Belgium absolutely dominated the last two encounters between those countries back in 2019. The Red Devils triumphed 3-1 in Brussels and 4-1 at the Gazprom Arena two years ago, so if you are looking for big odds you can try backing Roberto Martinez’s men to win by at least two goals at 24/5