Belgium v Portugal: Brilliant De Bruyne can star again

Dave Tindall previews Sunday evening's last 16 clash between Belgium and Portugal at Wembley and expects more magic from Kevin De Bruyne...

Belgium have cruised through but now it gets real

Belgium are ranked top of the FIFA World Rankings but weren't considered favourites to win Euro 2020 going into the group stage.

The Red Devils have probably justified both labels up to this point: they've played sublime football at times but also looked occasionally brittle.

The bottom line, though, is that they were just one of three teams along with Italy and the Netherlands to emerge from the group phase with maximum points. And, to their credit, they were the only one of the trio to do so without having home advantage.

That bodes well for the rest of the tournaments as England are the only team left in who will have a home game (Gareth Southgate's men could possibly have three).

Belgium kicked off with a comfortable victory over Russia, punishing mistakes by the hosts to run out 3-0 winners. Romelu Lukaku did plenty of punters a favour by scoring twice.

Then came their main stutter so far. A pumped up Denmark blew them away in the first half in Copenhagen before Roberto Martinez sent for the cavalry and turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win.

Kevin De Bruyne was the difference maker, scoring one and setting up the other after he'd missed the first game and the opening 45 of against Denmark.

Finland proved obdurate opponents in the final group game but Belgium found the answers again, with Lukaku scoring again to secure a 2-0 victory.

So far, so good for Belgium. Although the real stuff starts now.

Portugal games not playing out as expected

Portugal were pigeon-holed before the tournament as a team that would be hard to score against.

That was the path they trod on the way to winning the 2016 Euros and with Ruben Dias coming off a wonderful first season at Manchester City it seemed reasonable to expect more of the same.

Three of Portugal's seven games five years ago ended 0-0 after 90 minutes and they conceded just five goals en route to victory. By contrast, they've already shipped six goals across their three matches in Euro 2020.

After a tight opener, they scored three late goals to beat Hungary 3-0, Germany tore them apart in a 4-2 loss and they completed the set of win, lose, draw with an entertaining 2-2 against France.

The star man has been Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese goal machine banging in five so far - three from the spot - to lead the Golden Boot race by two. He may not be caught.

With seven goals scored and six conceded, this doesn't seem very Portugal-like at all. It makes them a difficult side to assess from a betting point of view as they appear to have a much wider range of results and performances in them compared to 2016.

Given that they were up against France and Germany in the Group of Death, it's no big surprise that Portugal came third. But the way the draw's worked out they're now in the Half of Death.

To repeat their 2016 triumph, Portugal will somehow have to find a way path Belgium, Italy, France and Germany. That's why they're eighth favourites at 16.0.

Belgium favourites

There's no home advantage here with the game being staged at Wembley although, like Belgium, Portugal played their group matches away from home: two in Budapest and one in Munich so there will be no culture shock.

Belgium are 2.52 favourites but the betting is tight. Portugal are 3.25 and The Draw 3.3.

Portugal didn't manage to beat either Germany or France and conceded six goals across those two games so it's hard to think they represent any value at that price.

A stronger argument can be made for Belgium who just win lots of matches whatever the opposition.

There's a counter argument though: Portugal are unbeaten in their last five matches against Belgium, winning three and drawing two.

The last two have some relevance given that they took place in 2016 (2-1 to Portugal) and 2018 (0-0) although both were friendlies. This is their first meeting in a major tournament.

I'd back Belgium if pushed but it's a trappy match market and the best bets lie elsewhere.

Fair to expect goals

Although the knockout stage could produce more caution, the for and against goal counts of both teams has to be noted.

Belgium's make-ups read 3, 3, 2 while Portugal's are 3, 6, 4. And yet Over 2.5 Goals is the underdog at 2.2 compared to the 1.81 for Unders.

That looks a bet to me. I'll play Overs.

Both teams to Score goes the other way and seems to take into account Portugal's surprise goal counts, with Yes favoured at 1.87 and No 2.1.

It could pay to act on these markets in play as five of Belgium's seven goals have come after the break: they excel when spaces start to open up.

Portugal have an identical record with five of their seven coming in the second half.

De Bruyne can land assist bet again

In my preview of Belgium v Finland, I noted that Kevin De Bruyne had a better assist record than a goalscoring one for both club and country. But, despite that, he was a bigger price to set up one than find the net.

That's the case once more: De Bruyne is 5/2 to score but a massive 4/1 to assist. Let's pull the trigger again.

In 82 matches for Belgium, he now has 40 assists compared to 22 goals after setting up Lukaku's strike against Finland. And let's not forget that he could easily have had three assists in that game. Lukaku was denied a goal for a marginal offside following a DKB pass and De Bruyne's corner for the opener was headed onto the inside of the post by Thomas Vermaelen before rebounding off the goalkeeper and going in.

The De Bruyne assist could also form the basis for a Bet Builder punt. Add it to Over 2.5 goals and that's an 8.1 chance.

Germany made hay down the flanks when thumping Portugal 4-2 and it's easy to see a De Bruyne cross setting up Lukaku or the other Belgian attackers for a goal.

Opta stat

Despite playing just 134 minutes of action so far, Kevin De Bruyne has had a direct hand in three of Belgium's seven goals at EURO 2020, netting once and delivering two assists. Dating back to the 2018 World Cup, De Bruyne has assisted in his last three major tournament appearances, with teammate Eden Hazard - between 2016 & 2018 - the last European player to do so in four straight matches at major tournaments (5).

0 nhận xét Blogger 0 Facebook

Post a Comment