BELGIUM meet Russia in Saint Petersburg on Saturday night in Group B. Daniel McCulloch (@DMcCulloch1984) shares his favourite fancies.
Belgium vs Russia | Saturday 12th June 2020, 20:00 | ITV
Russia entertain Belgium in St Petersburg on Saturday evening in what promises to be one of the most enjoyable games in the first round of matches at Euro 2020.
In the last major tournament – the 2018 World Cup in Russia – these two were involved in some of the most absorbing matches. They managed 17 goals between them in the group stages (against admittedly weaker opposition than you expect here) before Russia were involved in memorable 1-1 and 2-2 draws (and penalty shootouts) with Spain and Croatia respectively, while Belgium enjoyed engrossing victories against Brazil and Japan.
Belgium conceded twice to Japan despite going through and it is their defence that concerns me again here. Despite being largely impressive over the last couple of years, they have conceded in nine of their last 14 matches.
While that might not sound too bad, given the calibre of opposition, that is a relatively poor return, with Iceland (twice), Cyprus, Wales and Greece all finding the net in that sample. Russia also scored against them twice in that run of fixtures, although Belgium scored seven across those two matches as they enjoyed 3-1 and 4-1 victories.
Russia have only failed to score twice in their last 21 matches altogether and while – once again – there is a real assortment in terms of quality of the opposition, I do think that the likes of Artem Dzyuba, Alexsandr Golovin an Aleksei Miranchuk can cause the ageing Belgium backline sufficient problems for Russia to score a goal.
Despite Kevin De Bruyne being likely to be absent for this one, I still expect Belgium – and Romelu Lukaku in particular – to continue to have joy against this opposition.
I was really tempted to back Belgium to win and both sides to score as 3/1 looks plenty big enough but I have decided to go with two odds against shots, which could both easily land, with the assurance that I break even should just one prevail.
The first bet is Belgium to win and over 1.5 goals to be scored. That is available at 6/5 with Paddy Power. The second is Both Teams To Score, which is 21/20 with Sport Nation.
Elsewhere, I am surprised to see Lukaku as big as 7/2 to score first but given that I am already involved in backing him to be top tournament goalscorer, I will keep my powder dry on this occasion.
Belgium vs Russia – Belgium to win and Over 1.5 Goals (6/5 Paddy Power)
Belgium vs Russia – Both Teams To Score (21/20 Sport Nation)