Saturday, 12 June 2021

EURO 2020: Match Preview: Belgium v Russia

 


This is the sixth meeting between Belgium and Russia at a major tournament (World Cup + European Championships), but the first at the UEFA European Championships. Russia won the first two encounters at the 1970 and 1982 World Cup, both as USSR. Since then, Belgium have prevailed in all three subsequent matches.

Belgium – the first team to qualify for Euro 2020 – are taking part in their sixth European Championships. It’s only the second time they have qualified for two consecutive editions of the tournament after 1980 and 1984.

Since they were beaten finalists against West Germany in 1980, Belgium have never reached the last four of a European Championships.

As the USSR, Russia won the first ever European Championships in 1960, beating Yugoslavia 2-1 after extra-time in the final. They have lost the subsequent three European Championships finals they have reached: 1964, 1972 and 1988.

Since the dissolution of the USSR, Russia’s best performance at a European Championships came in 2008 when they reached the semis – they were beaten 3-0 by eventual winners Spain. That’s the only time they have made the knockout stages of the competition in that period.

Belgium are one of only two European teams (alongside France) to have reached the quarter-finals of each of the last three major tournaments (World Cup + European Championships, reaching the last 8 at World Cup 2014, Euro 2016, World Cup 2018).

None of Belgium’s last 12 games at the European Championships have ended in a draw (W5 L7), a run which started in the 1980 final (1-2 vs West Germany).

Belgium were one of only two teams – alongside Italy – to win 100% of their games in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign (10/10). They also scored more goals than any other team (40) whilst setting the joint-best defensive record (3 goals conceded in 10 games).

Romelu Lukaku is Belgium’s top scorer at major tournaments (World Cup + European Championships), with seven goals in 15 games. Six of those seven goals have come in the group stages.

Only Harry Kane (17) was directly involved in more goals than Russia’s Artem Dzyuba (14, nine goals and five assists) in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

This is Roberto Martinez’ second major tournament as Belgium head coach (World Cup + European Championships). At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he led the Red Devils to third place, their best-ever finish at the tournament.

This will be Stanislav Cherchesov’s second major tournament as Russia head coach (World Cup + European Championships). In the 2018 World Cup – on home soil, he led Russia to the quarter-finals, their best performance in the competition since the dissolution of the USSR.







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