Belgium vs Portugal, Lukaku vs Ronaldo Euro 2020 Preview

Belgium Portugal

Defending champions Portugal and Belgium experienced very different group stage campaigns. While A Seleção had to battle uncertainty until the very end, the Red Devils secured their berth in the knockout stages after two games. The two giants will now collide in the Round of 16 in what is set to be a battle between Serie A’s top marksmen: Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Landing in the group of death, Portugal’s journey was never going to be a breeze. But ultimately, tight encounters with France and Germany could prove to be valuable experiences so early on in the tournament. Fernando Santos’ side suffered defeat at the hands of the Germans before snatching a point off the world champions to scrape through the group stages in third place.

Roberto Martinez’s Belgium went through adversities of their own but in slightly lower profile company. For the Red Devils, the group stage was all about getting their stars back to tip-top shape. Both Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard started their final group game after sitting out the first two to start.

Belgium still went perfect through their group campaign — largely thanks to some huge performances from the in-form Romelu Lukaku. And now, as a result, the Red Devils’ star trident should be at their sharpest for their biggest test of the tournament so far.

As is to be expected at this point, Cristiano Ronaldo put his nation on his shoulders in their challenging group. The five time Ballon d’Or winner has five goals to his name so far, sitting atop the Golden Boot race — two ahead of Lukaku.

Today will see Belgium and Portugal clash in a competitive setting for the very first time in history.

Match Facts 

Teams: Belgium vs. Portugal 
Date: Sunday, June 27 
KO Time: 20:00 
Competition: Euro 2020 — Round of 16 
Stadium: La Cartuja Stadium, Seville (ESP)  
Managers: Roberto Martinez (BEL), Fernando Santos (POR) 
Referee: Felix Brych (GER)
VAR: Marco Fritz (GER)

Team News


Few things to note here. For the Red Devils, Roberto Martinez had the comfort of rotating his side against Finland in their final group victory. Getting a good look at some of his fringe players, Belgium’s gaffer has his full squad at his disposal.

Such selection headaches are what every manager wishes to have. Belgium has an embarrassment of riches among their attacking options. But the returns to full fitness of Hazard and De Bruyne will be more of a relief rather than a dilemma. Both stars will retain their spots in the starting XI after getting valuable minutes into their legs in the Finland win. They will join the red-hot Lukaku who will lead the line.

Source: The Athletic

One of the biggest decisions for Martinez to make is to pick a third alongside Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen in the back three. Both Jason Denayer and Dedryck Boyata have not looked their best in the tournament so far. But being part of such a trio is very much a complementary role. Youri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker should return to the engine room after getting a night off last time out.


For Santos’ A Seleção, there was no time for rest. Portugal desperately needed points on the board against Les Bleus — which they got. Santos made a few tweaks to that side which ultimately paid off.

Bruno Fernandes was replaced by Renato Sanches in the starting line-up and should be expected to retain his place on Sunday. Joao Moutinho also got the start, and he too may very well keep his place with Danilo Pereira being a doubt after suffering a knock to the head and coming off at half-time. This could see William Carvalho return to the fold as the defensive midfielder.

Elsewhere, right-back Nelson Semedo was forced off with what looked like a muscle injury in the 79th minute of the France game. This could see late call-up Diogo Dalot get his first senior start after making his debut earlier in the week. That’s undoubtedly Santos’ biggest decision to make and would be a massive test for the Manchester United defender.

Recent Form — Lukaku and Ronaldo on fire

Belgium: WWW

Despite a scare in game two, Belgium ended up breezing through Group B — grabbing all nine points.

Roberto Martinez’s side cooly dispatched Russia and Finland. Lukaku was the star shouldering most of the attacking burden in that pair of fixtures. Meanwhile, the returning De Bruyne proved to be the x-factor for the Red Devils in their biggest test of the group stage against Denmark.

After going down in the first half, the Belgians simply were not able to break down Denmark’s low block. That’s when Martinez reached for the big guns on his bench. De Bruyne went on to prove his readiness, providing a goal and an assist in a second-half comeback 2-1 win.

Portugal: DLW

The defending champions started Euro 2020 with a bang. A Seleção ended up turning over the stubborn Hungarians 3-0 in their opener to send a statement in Group F. But testing times were ahead.

A 2-4 loss to Germany followed. A very poor defensive showing in which Santos’ side could not come to grips with Germany’s wing-heavy tactical setup. Completely overran out wide, the Portuguese capitulated. This left them needing to scratch against the French. A big response was required.

After a few personnel changes, the Portuguese showed plenty of fight to stay in the tournament after being on the brink of elimination at one stage. The game ended 2-2 and Cristiano was once again the story. The 36-year-old scored five in the group, tying the all-time international goal-scoring record (109) — looking sharp and primed to break it in the knockouts.

Source: The Jakarta Post

Predicted Line-ups

Belgium: Courtois, Alderweireld, Boyata, Vertonghen; Meunier, Tielemans, Dendoncker, T. Hazard; De Bruyne, Lukaku, E. Hazard

Portugal: Patricio; Dalot, Pepe, Dias, Guerreiro; R. Sanches, Carvalho, Moutinho; Silva, Jota, Ronaldo 

Prediction: Who comes out on top Lukaku or Ronaldo?

Historically, the knockout stages are a nightmare to predict. Just like in derby rivalries in club football, form and tactics often tend to go out the window. In one-off games, it comes down to the finest of margins. Who wants it more? Which of the big stars will step up?

Something important to look at is that most of this Portugal team has already tasted European silverware as the defending champions. And for the current crop of Belgium players — the golden generation — this very well may be it. Euro 2020 and next year’s World Cup could be two of their last hurrahs. If you notice a difference in urgency and application, particularly early on and at the death, that may be the reason.

But of course, star-studded Portugal can never be written off. No team with Cristiano Ronaldo in it can ever be written off. He is the ultimate game-changer. And as always, he looks to be the hungriest out of everyone. Ronaldo is leading this team. He wants to retain his crown.

Getting such a high-profile clash as early as in the Round of 16 is a treat. On paper, it should be a footballing feast. And whoever comes out on top will fancy themselves to go all the way.

Score Prediction: Belgium 2-1 Portugal

Author: Arion Armeniakos

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