22 March 2019
Belgium and Russia go head-to-head for the opening game of the European Championship Qualifiers Group I with the showdown scheduled to take place at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.
Although the hosts seemed to be on their way of finishing top of their respective UEFA Nations League group, a 5-2 debacle against Switzerland in the final fixture has seen them hand the top spot to the Nati. Before that, De Rode Duivels have ensured four wins in five clashes in the post-World Cup period (W4, D1), scoring 12 goals while conceding just two in the process. Widely regarded as the leading candidates to finish top of Group I, Roberto Martinez’s men look to stretch an outstanding 19-game home lossless run (W15, D4). Belgium’s main strength is devastating firepower that produced 2+ match goals in six of their last seven clashes. However, Martinez has to keep in mind that his players have failed to keep a clean sheet in three of their previous four outings.
Meanwhile, encouraged by an astonishing World Cup performance, the 2018 WC hosts have gone from strength to strength in the post-competition period, securing three wins in four games (W3, D1). During that time, the Sbornaya have netted nine goals and allowed only two. However, Stanislav Cherchesov’s men come into this meeting after suffering two straight defeats, to Germany and Sweden, in which they’ve failed to find the back of the net while conceding 2+ match goals in each. Now, Russia go in search of their elusive first triumph over Belgium in the 21st century after suffering three defeats four of their previous H2Hs (D1, L3).
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