Belgium vs Russia – Preview

Russia welcomes Belgium to the Saint Petersburg Stadium for their opening clash of the Euro 2020. Sitting in group B, Belgium will want nothing more than to top the table and move onto the next round as soon as possible. The Red Devils have had a very good squad of late with impressive players like Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku. With no international trophies so far, winning the Euros will definitely be on their mind. They came very close in the 2018 World Cup but were knocked out by France. Russia too had a better World Cup than most expected reaching the quarter-finals. They were ousted on penalties by the eventual finalists, Croatia.

Although Russia will be a tricky side to beat, Belgium have not lost to them in their recent history, a run going back to 2010. Their latest game was when the two faced off in a Euro qualifiers. Belgium thrashed Russia 4-1 thanks to a masterclass from the Hazard brothers. They won the reverse leg 3-1 with another splendid performance from Eden Hazard.

Match Facts

Date: 12th June, Saturday
Time: 8 pm (BST)
Venue: Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Referee: Antonio Mateu (Spain)

Form Guide:
Belgium – WDWDW
Russia – WWLDW

Recent Form

Belgium followed up their exit from the 2018 World Cup poorly wherein they finished 2nd on goal-difference in their Nations League group behind Switzerland. They have righted their wrongs and have qualified for the next stage of the 2021-22 Nations League despite sharing a group with England. Roberto Martinez’s men also sit atop their World Cup qualifying group, 3 points clear of 2nd placed Czech Republic. They go into this game on the back of a 1-0 win over Croatia in a friendly game.

Russia failed to capitalize on their dream run in the previous World Cup as they got knocked out of the Nations League on both occasions. They have, however, done well in the World Cup Qualifiers as they sit second in their group, level on points with first-placed Croatia. Russia goes into this game on the back of 3 wins from their last 5 games, winning their most recent fixture against Bulgaria.

Team News


Kevin De Bruyne suffered a nasty eye injury in the Champions League that has ruled him out of this fixture. Eden Hazard too has struggled with his fitness for a while now and will be unavailable through a thigh injury. The absence of this duo will come as a huge blow. Axel Witsel too will be sidelined until the end of this month with an Achilles tendon injury.

Belgium has always preferred a 3 at the back formation and will continue with that. Thomas Meunier and Yannick Carrasco could be given the opportunity to man the flanks. Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans has had an amazing season and will be rewarded with a start in midfield. Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku and Thorgan Hazard will spearhead the attack.

Possible Lineup: Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen; Meunier, Dendoncker, Tielemans, Carrasco; Mertens, T. Hazard, Lukaku


Fedor Kudryashov, who is nursing a calf injury, is the only confirmed absentee. Like De Bruyne, Dmitri Barinov too picked up a facial injury but he has been deemed fit to start. Roman Zobnin has passed a fitness test meaning that he will be available for selection too.

Stanislav Cherchesov should mirror Belgium’s 3-4-3 formation. Barinov, Georgiy Dzhikiya and Andrey Semenov should start in defence as Mario Fernandes and Daler Kuzyaev start on the flanks. Starman, Aleksandr Golovin will keep his place right behind the striker. Artem Dzyuba will continue his duties as the lone-striker.

Possible Lineup: Shunin; Barinov, Dzhikiya, Semenov; Fernandes, Zobnin, Ozdoev, Kuzyaev; Miranchuk, Golovin, Dzyuba

Likely Winner

Both sides will fancy their chances but Belgium has a higher probability of winning this tie. The likes of Timothy Castagne and Leandro Trossard can come off the bench and influence the game as well. The absence of Hazard and De Bruyne will be sizeable but Mertens and Lukaku are coming off the back of excellent individual seasons. Russia, while having great players, will find it tough to breach the Belgian defence. Meunier and Carrasco will look to exploit the space behind the Russian wing-backs and centre-backs. This will lead to crosses for Lukaku who will be a threat in the air.

Score Prediction: 2-0 win for Belgium

Author: Suraj Shivshankar

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