Thursday, June 17, 2021

Belgium 1-1 Greece: Red Devils held in first Euro 2020 warm-up game

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 Jun 2021

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Belgium started their preparations for Euro 2020 with a disappointing 1-1 friendly draw with Greece at the King Baudouin Stadium on Thursday. 

The Red Devils were without influential midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who sustained fractures to his nose and eye socket in Manchester City’s Champions League defeat to Chelsea at the weekend, and they sorely missed his creativity against John van ‘t Schip’s side, who are ranked 50 places beneath them in the world rankings.

Thorgan Hazard had put Roberto Martinez’s side ahead midway through the first half after a slick move and he missed a glaring opportunity to add another before the interval. 

He was punished for that miss in the 66th minute when Georgios Tzavellas stroked home to seal a draw for the visitors.

Greece started on the front foot, with Giorgos Masouras and Anastasios Bakasetas forcing Simon Mignolet into saves inside the opening 10 minutes.

Romelu Lukaku was denied from point-blank range by Odisseas Vlachodimos as the hosts belatedly woke from their slumber.

It did not take them long to go ahead once they had hit their stride, Hazard volleying home from six yards after a smart one-two with Yannick Carrasco in the 20th minute.

Hazard should have had a second before the interval, but the Borussia Dortmund man inexplicably struck the outside of the post with the goal at his mercy.

Mignolet tipped Masouras’ effort around the post on the hour mark, before Tzavellas secured a draw for Greece with an instinctive finish from 10 yards after Kyriakos Papadopoulos’ header had bounced back off the post.

 

What does it mean? Tougher tests to come for Red Devils

Their Euro 2020 group is not packed with giants of European football but if their struggles here are anything to go by then Belgium might not have it all their own way against Finland, Norway and Russia. 

Despite their attacking talent, the Red Devils only managed to carve out seven shots to Greece’s nine, which will surely concern Martinez so close to a major tournament.

Hazard impresses for hosts 

Few in red shone, with Hazard the best of a below-par bunch. His goal came from a game-high three shots, while he gained possession on nine occasions – the joint-highest tally on the pitch.

Doku fails to shine

Martinez has suggested De Bruyne is unlikely to be fit enough for Belgium’s opening group game and Jeremy Doku did not exactly stake his claim to deputise for him here. The Rennes man was brought off at half-time after playing just one key pass to a team-mate and failing to register a single shot on target.

What’s next?

Belgium face Croatia in a friendly before their Euro 2020 campaign kicks off against Russia on June 12. Greece, meanwhile, face the Red Devils’ Group B opponents Norway in a friendly on Sunday.

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