Last year’s World Cup saw Belgium and Russia reach new heights as football powers. Russia proved itself to be a capable host and ended up qualifying for the Quarterfinals for the first time in their history after stunning Spain in penalties in the Round of 16. Meanwhile, Belgium looked like they could win it all after roaring back from down 2-0 to beat Japan in the Round of 16 and beating Brazil in the Quarterfinals, but they fell 1-0 to eventual champions France in the Semifinals. Belgium did beat England to win third place, and now they have their sights set on Euro 2020. Belgium and Russia are considered the teams most likely to get out of Group I, but if they slip up Scotland or Kazakhstan could surprise.
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Belgium vs Russia
- Date and Time: March 21, 2019, 2:45 p.m. ET
- Location: King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels, Belgium
- US Television Coverage: ESPN2
- Betting Line: Belgium -1.5, O/U 3
This is the sixth meeting between Russia and Belgium. They have met twice at the World Cup prior to this and have played friendlies against one another three times, but this will be their first meeting with European qualification at stake. Russia have yet to beat the Red Devils. Belgium bested them 3-2 at the 2002 World Cup and knocked Russia off by a score of 1-0 at the 2014 World Cup. Their last game was two years ago when Russia overcame a 3-1 halftime deficit to earn a 3-3 draw thanks to late goals from Aleksei Miranchuk and Aleksandr Bukharov.
Since the World Cup, Russia are 3-1-2 in international matches. They defeated Turkey both home and away, and they crushed the Czech Republic 5-1 back in September. They could only muster a draw with Sweden at home though, and Russia have lost their last two international tilts. They allowed three goals to Germany within 40 minutes in a 3-0 defeat in mid-November and lost 2-0 to Sweden a few days later.
Belgium will not be taking place in the Nations League Finals following a stunning loss to Switzerland, but the Red Devils have been solid aside from that. They beat Scotland, Iceland, and Switzerland in the first couple months after the World Cup and drew 1-1 with the Netherlands.
Russia Player to Watch
Artem Dyzuba made a name for himself at the World Cup. Russia’s captain was a familiar name to Russian soccer fans after 12 years in the Russian Premier League, but he was relatively unknown outside the country. That changed after the World Cup after he showed what a force he can be in the air. At 6’5, Dyzuba towers over most others on the pitch, and he put two in with his head at the World Cup. Belgium must mark him well, especially on set pieces.
Belgium Player to Watch
Eden Hazard is still the star of this team. Hazard is one of the best players in the world and wears the captain’s armband for a reason. At 28, he is in the prime of his career and he will likely earn his 100th cap for Belgium during this international break. Hazard isn’t the team’s primary scorer and is mostly the team’s set-up man, but he has still notched 27 goals in his career for Belgium.
Belgium vs Russia Free Picks
This Belgium squad boasts a lot of talent in the prime of their careers, and they are internationally seasoned too. Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and Dries Mertens have been great together and they will lead Belgium to a win.
Belgium vs Russia Prediction: Belgium 3, Russia 1
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