Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 10/11
In what is a mouth-watering affair on Sunday evening, England will welcome Belgium to an empty Wembley this weekend for a Nations League showdown.
Starting with the hosts, last seen on Nations League duties settling for a sluggish 0-0 draw away in Denmark, England couldn’t have wished for a better response when they played host to British rivals Wales in midweek. Making a string of changes and handing out a host of first international caps, Gareth Southgate’s squad picked up a 3-0 win against the Dragons at Wembley and the Three Lions have continued to impress with their new-found resolve at the back. Opening up this year’s tournament with that dramatic 1-0 victory away in Iceland last month, the Whites have remarkably now recorded six clean sheets on the bounce across all competitions, a run that stems all the way back to November 2019. While England know that they certainly face their sternest test on Sunday evening, Southgate’s men have gained a reputation from across Europe for their continued success on home soil. England have won 19 of their past 20 competitive home matches, the only loss in this run being a 2-1 defeat by Spain in September 2018.
After making a string of changes against Wales in midweek, Gareth Southgate is expected to recall the likes of Marcus Rashford and skipper Harry Kane.
Elsewhere, despite real pressure on his spot at Everton, Southgate is expected to keep faith with Jordan Pickford who will start between the sticks on Sunday evening.
As for the visitors, while Roberto Martinez’s heavily altered squad might have had to settle for a 1-1 draw against the Ivory Coast in an international friendly earlier in the week, Belgium have managed to hold onto their #1 ranking with FIFA and do find themselves in the midst of an extended purple patch. Really cruising their way to next year’s delayed European Championships in nothing short than stunning fashion, the Red Devils have also opened up their Nations League campaign with back-to-back victories against Denmark and Iceland. Storming their way to EURO 2021 by winning each of their 10 qualifying contests on the bounce, the one-time Wigan boss finds his men in the midst of an unbeaten run across all formats that stems all the way back to November 2011. Picking up a 2-0 win when they last faced off against England as they picked up a bronze medal finish out Russia at the World Cup finals two years ago, Belgium will certainly be traveling to North London confident of picking up another real scalp in the capital.
Belgium will be without some of their biggest names this weekend, with it confirmed that Eden Hazard, Thorgan Hazard and Dries Mertens who have all had to withdraw due to injury.
Elsewhere, failing a fitness test earlier in the week, number one keeper Thibaut Courtois has returned to Real Madrid.
Key Factors to Consider
- When the two nations faced off at the 2018 World Cup finals, Belgium picked up back-to-back victories against England.
- The Three Lions have now recorded six clean sheets on the bounce across all formats.
- England have won 19 of their past 20 competitive home matches, the only loss in this run being a 2-1 defeat by Spain in September 2018.
- Belgium have won each of their last 12 competitive matchups on the bounce.
- Romelu Lukaku has 12 goals in as many international appearances for the Red Devils.
- Five of the last six meetings between Sunday’s opponents have seen under 2.5 goals by the final whistle.
While on paper we might have a battle between two European heavyweights this weekend, we could be in for a matchup that sees chances come to a real premium. Picking up a 3-0 victory against British rivals Wales earlier in the week and continuing to show some real defensive resolve, Gareth Southgate’s men have landed six clean sheets on the bounce and also hold what is a very eye-catching record on home soil. However, still facing a stern test against the reigning world numbers one’s on Sunday, the Three Lions will be desperate to put their back-to-back defeats against the Red Devils out in Russia two years ago behind them. With five of the last six meetings between the two nations seeing under 2.5 goals by the final whistle, we’re backing a similar outcome at Wembley.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 10/11
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