Two matches are scheduled to be played in the Euro 2020 championship on Sunday, and followers have some big names to look forward to. The action begins at 17:00 when the Netherlands take on the Czech Republic in a knockout match, and you can follow our in-depth preview on this site. This article focuses on the top of the bill tussle between heavyweights Belgium and Portugal, which gets underway at 20:00 GMT.
This is a fixture that will attract attention across planet football as it pairs the current holders in Portugal with one of the pre-tournament favorites in Belgium. As we are now playing knockout football, there is no margin for error. The losing team will be eliminated from the competition, with the winning side marching to the next round. There’s all to play for here, and it will make for a thrilling 90 minutes of play with extra time and penalties available if required.
The stats show these nations have met five times previously, with the Portuguese unbeaten in that time. The head-to-head charts show the current European champions have won three of those five, with the other two ending in a draw. However, the pair did finish level in their last meeting, playing out a tense goalless draw in a friendly match three years ago. Another competitive contest awaits, but which team will come out on top?
Belgium haven’t put a foot wrong
Belgium impressed during qualification or Euro 2020 when winning their group, finishing well clear of runners-up Russia with Scotland back in third. The Red Fury barely needed to get out of first gear to book their place at this tournament and had no problem picking up the pace when things got serious. They finished as winners of Group B with a maximum of nine points claimed from three games. They are one of only three nations that boast a 100% record from the group stage.
The Belgians finished six points ahead of runners-up Denmark, with Finland and Russia exiting the competition. A closer look at their stats from those three games shows Belgium scored seven goals and conceded just one. That ranks them amongst the strongest defensive teams in the competition and up there with the best for goals scored. Confidence is high in the camp, and they enter this match believing they are good enough to take a major scalp in Portugal and move to the next round. Belgian fans know this side is special and good enough to win the nation’s first European championship but has fared no better than runners-up in the past.
They got off the mark with a simple 3-0 win over Russia on matchday one and having beaten the same opponent home and away during qualifying; there was no real shock in that result. Belgium then moved to defeat runners-up Denmark by a 2-1 final score in a game that was a little closer than many pundits had expected. They rounded off the group with a solid 2-0 over Finland, flexing their muscles and proving just why many pundits have them picked as champions.
Portugal out to defend
Portugal won the European Championship in 2016 and held on to the trophy for an extra 12 months due to the coronavirus emergency. Despite the delay in defending their crown, the current champions entered this summer’s play believing they are good enough to retain the title, even if many pundits and professionals of the game had written them off. They were dropped into what was known as the “group of death” when sharing a pool with France, Germany, and Hungary. Fans knew their side faced an uphill struggle to get through Group F.
They finished the pool as one of the best third-placed sides, claiming the four points needed to keep their dream alive. France won the pool with an unbeaten record and picking up five points. That left them ahead of Germany and Portugal on four points, the Germans sneaking into the runners-up slot on goal difference. It was as tight as most football fans expected it to be in that pool, but Portugal breathed a sigh of relief when booking their place in the knockout rounds. Their form for the first three games read win-lose-draw.
Portugal opened the competition with a 3-0 over Hungary, but that match was closer than the final score would suggest. Portugal nicked three goals in the final few minutes with a late double from Cristiano Ronaldo. The Hungarians had every right to feel aggrieved at the defeat, certainly the final score, but it was Portugal who marched on. They were beaten 4-2 by Germany in their second match before rounding things off with a 2-2 against France.
Belgium v Portugal prediction
This game has all the ingredients of a classic. Two teams who believe they have what it takes to go all the way and lift the title. The starting line-up for this match is packed with individual talent with some of the biggest names in the sport on show. That will make for a gripping match if you are in the stadium or watching the live action at home. The winner of this game could go on to win the trophy without it being a massive shock.
Belgium was the more impressive team during the group stages, but they did have a far simpler pool than the one Portugal came through. Ronaldo and co boast recent experience of winning the Euros, whereas Belgium has never crossed the line as champions. There has only been more than one goal between the teams in past meetings of Belgium and Portugal, and another close match looks likely on Sunday.
Euro 2020 odds
The pre-match betting available on this match at 22Bet has Belgium priced at odds of 2.405 to win in regulation time. Portugal can be backed for victory at 3.09 while the draw is 3.19.
There are over 100 markets available on Belgium v Portugal pre-match and in-play at 22Bet. Some of the most popular include both teams to score, correct score, total goals, handicap and more: check them out and bet on the match HERE.