Belgium vs Portugal is the sort of titanic clash worthy of being the final of Euro 2020, but instead the two will do battle in the Round of 16.
Roberto Martinez’s side cruised through Group B after picking up maximum points from their three games – one of only three sides in the tournament to do so – and conceded just a single goal on their way to the knockout rounds.
Portugal didn’t have things quite so easy in the so-called ‘group of death’ but they scraped through to the last 16 as one of the best third-place finishers – hence their tough assignment against the Belgians.
One of the favourites to be crowned Euro 2020 champions is about the leave the competition before we’ve even reached the quarter-finals and here’s 90min’s preview of the upcoming clash…
Belgium team news
Timothy Castagne is the only unavailable player from the squad named by Martinez prior to the start of the tournament.
The Leicester man suffered a clash of heads with Daler Kuzyaev in his side’s opener and was subsequently ruled out for the rest of the competition, so Thomas Meunier will continue at right wing-back.
Eden Hazard played his first full 90 minutes for the national team in nearly two years against Finland last time out and is expected to retain his place in the starting XI.
Portugal team news
Nuno Mendes will undergo a late fitness test to determine whether he can play any part in Sunday’s game, though he’s unlikely to make the starting XI even if he is classed as fit to play.
Joao Moutinho was handed a start in Portugal’s final group game against France, but the Wolves man failed to really justify his selection and so Bruno Fernandes could make a return to the midfield.
Our 21’s One to Watch
Jeremy Doku was handed his first start of Euro 2020 against Finland and he made quite the impression. The youngster is likely to be named as a substitute on Sunday but we’ll be surprised if he doesn’t make it onto the pitch, given how exciting he looked against Finland.
Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen; Meunier, Tielemans, De Bruyne, T. Hazard; Mertens, Lukaku, E. Hazard
Portugal: Rui Patricio; Semedo, Dias, Pepe, Guerreiro; Danilo, Sanches, Fernandes; Silva, Ronaldo, Jota
Belgium vs Portugal head-to-head record
These two sides have met each other 18 times and they’re clearly pretty well matched.
Portugal just edge the head-to-head battle having won six of the pair’s contests compared to Belgium’s five, and with seven previous draws it looks like we’re in for a close match on Sunday.
Their most recent meeting saw them play out a 0-0 in Brussels as they prepared for the 2018 World Cup just over three years ago.
Belgium vs Portugal score prediction
If you’d predicted one of these sides would win Euro 2020 prior to the tournament’s kick off you’d hardly be called out for backing a dark horse, so one of them leaving at the last 16 stage seems pretty mad.
Both teams can be shaky at the back but then they can also score for fun, so this one is likely to be decided by whose attackers turn up on the day, and on that basis you just can’t look past Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku’s Belgium.
Prediction: Belgium 2-1 Portugal