Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Prediction: Belgium vs Russia

Verdict: Belgium win to nil 

Best Odds: 21/20

Bookmaker: Bet365

Looking to get their Euro 2020 campaign off to a winning start, Group I favorites Belgium will welcome Russia to the Stade Roi Baudouin on Thursday night.

Belgium

Starting with the hosts, while Belgium may have managed to leave Russia with a Bronze medal last summer, many believe that their golden generation hasn’t reached it’s full potential. Coming off the back of a very surprising and comprehensive 5-2 defeat away at Switzerland back in November, Roberto Martínez saw his side fail to book their spot in the semi-final of the inaugural UEFA Nations League. With the former Wigan boss knowing it is more than likely that next year’s European Championships will be their star-studded squads last chance to win a major tournament, Belgium will be looking for a dominant display in qualifying. Holding an unbeaten record against Russia in their five previous meetings, fans around the Stade Roi Baudouin should be boosted by their very eye-catching record on home soil. The Red Devils have not lost a single matchup at home since a 2-0 loss to former world champions Spain back in 2016.

Team News

Mousa Dembele and Thomas Meunier have both pulled out of the squad due to injury.

Russia

As for the visitors, knocking out Spain on route to securing a spot in the quarter-finals, few expected Russia’s impressive display at last year’s World Cup finals. However, with the likes of long-time captain and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev announcing his international retirement, they have shown some signs of a struggle since their exploits last summer. With an almost new-look squad, Russia slumped to a 2-0 loss away at Sweden last time out and also struggled in their 3-0 hammering away at an inconsistent Germany. If Russia are to book their spot at next year’s finals, then Thursday’s visitors will know that they must improve on their recent record away from Moskva. After picking up a pair of defeats away at Germany and Sweden in November, last summers’ hosts have lost their last four matches on the road. More worrying for boss Stanislav Cherchesov, Russia’s 3-0 win away at Hungary back in June 2017 is their only away victory in almost four years.

Team News

Spartak Moscow duo Ilya Kutepov and Roman Zobnin have both been forced to withdraw from the squad with a groin injury and broken hand, respectively.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Belgium are unbeaten in their five previous matches against Russia.
  • The Red Devils are also unbeaten at home since a 2-0 loss to Spain in June 2016.
  • Romelu Lukaku has scored six goals in his last three appearances for Manchester United.
  • Russia have lost their last two matches and failed to find the net in both defeats.
  • The visitors have also won just one away match in four years.

Conclusion

While many were left reeling from Belgium’s 5-2 hammering away at Switzerland last time out, the Red Devils should see this as a perfect chance to get back to winning ways. Given their dominant record at home, especially in qualifying, coupled with Russia’s very public struggles on the road, we’re backing a comfortable victory for Roberto Martínez’s side on Thursday night.

Verdict: Belgium win to nil 

Best Odds: 21/20

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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