ENGLAND visit Belgium on Sunday. Jack Wright (@JackWright_BSB ) is on-hand to preview the match-up .
Belgium vs England | Sunday 15th November 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
With the full line-up now confirmed for Euro 2020 the bookies have compiled their odds and we have the two shortest-priced teams meeting each other in this Nations League, League A, Group 1 fixture.
Belgium, available at 11/2 with Bet365 for the Euros, know a victory over an England side as short as 9/2 to be victorious in the delayed tournament will book their place in the Nations League finals if Denmark also fail to beat Iceland.
With the final group games on Wednesday that should be enough motivation for the Red Devils to go all out for the win here at the King Baudouin Stadium to give a chance for some rotation in that final game against the Danes.
The world number one side are unbeaten at home since a 2-0 friendly defeat to Spain in September 2016 – a run which now stretches to an impressive 27 fixtures and with Gareth Southgate unable to pick Harry Maguire, Conor Coady and Reece James from the defence which lined up in their last UNL fixture added as well as the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez I expect the home side to extend that run.
A Michy Batshuayi brace earned a mainly second-string Belgium XI a 2-1 friendly victory over Switzerland on Thursday, but prior to that and sandwiched by two friendly draws with Ivory Coast and Netherlands, the hosts won seven successive games by at least two goals.
Belgium have also recorded nine wins in their last 11 competitive meetings at home against countries currently ranked inside FIFA’s top-40, with seven of those wins coming by a winning margin of two or more goals.
Another victory by at least a two goal margin is a distinct possibility and odds of 4/1 with 888 are very appealing but I am going to take a bet with a little security in the home side only winning by the odd goal – so Belgium -1 Asian Handicap gives us a refund if they win by one goal and the odds of 3/1 with Unibet look generous to me.
For a side with an impressive winning record it comes as no surprise to find out that Belgium have also scored in their last 23 games and of the 49 fixtures Roberto Martinez has been in charge they have found the net in 47 scoring a total of 147 goals – with only shut outs by France in the 2018 World Cup semi-final and Portugal in a friendly earlier that same year.
One of the main contributors to that phenomenal record is Romelu Lukaku who England’s back line, whoever forms it, will be all too familiar with. The Inter Milan striker has blasted 55 goals in 87 international appearances and already has 11 goals from his 10 club and country appearances this season.
Odds of 9/2 to break the deadlock with Bet365 have obvious appeal but as he is on penalties and scored one in his last international start against Iceland as well as the return fixture against the Three Lions last month I wanted to take a chance on Lukaku to score a penalty but unfortunately at time of writing there were no odds available so one to keep an eye out for closer to kick-off – therefore I am putting what looks like very generous odds of 6/4 for him to score at anytime in the game.
As for England they are of course not without hope and they know defeat here will see them miss out on the UNL finals. One route to goal that seems to be very much back on the agenda is their threat from set piece situations, taking the lead from one of 10 first half corners against Republic of Ireland on Thursday. It took us back to those heady World Cup games in Russia where England scored nine goals from set pieces.
Gareth Southgate is likely to line up with three centre backs again and against the Irish those three were Michael Keane, Harry Maguire and Tyrone Mings who managed two, four and two shots respectively between them.
With Maguire and Coady, as already mentioned ruled out for this one and the rested Kyle Walker and Eric Dier likely to come back in to the side that leaves a likely decision between Keane and Mings for that final slot. My hunch is the Aston Villa man will get the nod having been withdrawn with half an hour to play in the midweek win.
Regular readers of my previews may remember me suggesting Harry Maguire shots in a previous international and it is a bet I like at often generous odds, so it will come as no surprise that I immediately visited Ladbrokes and used their BetBuilder option to check out the odds on Mings to repeat that performance and have another two shots – odds of 18/1 looked very large to me – especially when compared with the 13/2 on offer with SkyBet and even more so in comparison to Betfair’s 9/2!
Also, if my hunch is wrong and Mings is overlooked for a starting berth this bet will be void under Ladbrokes rules.