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With a starting XI that your dad would recognise, and a second XI that even your grandad could reel off in his sleep, Belgium need no introduction.
Russia – St Petersburg, Sat, June 12, 8pm
Denmark – Copenhagen, Thu, June 17, 5pm
Finland – St Petersburg, Mon, June 21, 8pm
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
They breezed through their group, finishing with 10 wins from 10 and a goal difference of +37. Russia managed to score against them twice (1-4, 3-1) and Cyprus also got a goal (6-1), but that was all they conceded.
You know him, too. Roberto Martinez became a big name after winning the FA Cup with Wigan and getting relegated from the Premier League three days later back in 2013. The inconsistency obviously appealed to Everton, and he enjoyed one good season with them before two years of mediocrity saw him sacked. Shortly after he took the Belgium job and he’s been there for five years now.
Belgium like to line up in a 3-4-2-1 with Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens operating behind Romelu Lukaku. Youri Tielemans and either Leander Dendocker or Axel Witsel are employed as the two holding players and Thomas Meunier and Thorgan Hazard normally start on the wings. There’s been no room of late for brother Eden though, who’s found that the lifestyle in Madrid suits him far too well, and hence has struggled for fitness and form over the last two years.
Romelu Lukaku is the most important player, with Michy Batshuyi, Divock Origi and Christian Benteke not measuring up. Thibaut Courtois to Simon Mignolet is another big drop in quality, but apart from that, the Belgians have star names backing up every position.
ONE TO WATCH
Jeremy Doku is a tricky winger at Rennes, and the 18 year-old has greatly impressed in his four starts for Belgium. He’s been up there with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Hatem Ben Arfa in the Ligue 1 dribbling charts and is an exciting player to watch. He’s much more of a creator than a scorer though, after only notching two goals for his club this season.
Here’s all the key data on Belgium’s squad.
- Squads and statistics correct at time of data sheet creation.
Belgium look to have the second best squad, but the second toughest group, having to play away at both Denmark and Russia. They don’t host any games, hence why they are only third favourites behind England and France.
However their route to the final is relatively easy. Belgium will face a third-place qualifier if they win the group, a runner-up if they come second, and most likely either the Netherlands or Italy in the quarter-finals. Given this age profile of this “Golden Generation” anything less than a win would be seen as a failure.
De Bruyne has six goals in his last 12 appearances for his country after netting 15 times in his first 68 caps. He’s playing further forward in a more attacking role and given how far Belgium will go in the tournament, De Bruyne looks an each-way bet in the Top Goalscorer markets.
READ MORE ON EURO 2020
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- Euro 2021 tips: Who to back – and avoid – to be Young Player of the Tournament
- Euro 2021 tips: Who to back – and avoid – at this summer’s tournament
- Euro 2021 tips: High or low? Here’s where your goalscoring bets should go