In the 16 rounds, the world’s number one team (Belgium) could not perform better against the defending champion (Portugal). If you consider the collection of world-class talents on both sides, this is really a classic high-stakes matchup: being eliminated in the 16 knockout rounds is a failure for both teams.
This is particularly important for the Belgian team, which has not yet used the trophy to realize its “golden generation” potential. The FIFA World No. 1 ranking is pretty good, but Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne know their team expects to finally get Belgium to the important tournament finals. Therefore, the pressure on the Red Devils will be the greatest.
The Portuguese game is carefully crafted according to the model of their captain and leader Cristiano Ronaldo, who may participate in his last European Championship at the age of 36. Sometimes this can be ugly, but the Portuguese always seem to find a way to leave their mark on games and championships. Portugal’s lineup this year is better than when they won this game in 2016.
This is a well set up game, there is no obvious favorite, there are many games on both sides.
What the group stage revealed
Portugal may have qualified for third place in the group, but it clearly has more difficult groups (Germany, France, Hungary) than Belgium (Denmark, Finland, Russia). Therefore, if “field-tested” is a useful trait, then the Portuguese is fully prepared for this heavyweight game.
The highlight of Portugal’s path to the top 16 is how the team manages each of the three games. The Portuguese usually accept what the game gives them and react accordingly. This approach made them look like they were fighting (including against Hungary), and the game against Germany eventually got rid of them (4-2 loss).
When circumstances require, Portugal can also put forward more numbers and force the issue. But the Portuguese are content to let another team control the ball and then choose the timing in the offense with Ronaldo and forward teammate Diogo Jota, which shows that they have the ability to create opportunities for themselves.
Outside of the emotionally charged Parken Stadium against Denmark, Belgium is more stable in its ability to control the game because it faces an inferior opponent. With the return of the main organizer De Bruyne, if they give him a chance, he will be happy to have the opportunity to break the Portuguese defense.
Belgium vs. Portugal odds and predictions
Against teams like France and Germany, the Portuguese’s position on the wing and on the top of the ball is fully exposed, both of which are Belgium’s strengths. Center Romelu Lukaku spent the best season of his career at Inter Milan, and he will be the key to whether the Belgian can take advantage of these stages.
But Portugal has the best defender in the Premier League, Ruben Dias, who is physically strong and plans to play well against Lukaku. If Portugal can pass the ball against De Bruyne in the midfield and prevent it from passing to Lukaku, it will bode well for its chances of promotion.
The Portuguese will also rely heavily on the psychological vulnerability of the Belgians. Belgium is likely to face the underdog Wales in the quarter-finals of the 2016 European Cup (3-1 loss), and the fact that they have not beaten Portugal since September 1989.
In a close match, both teams will score the project as the most realistic scenario. There are several options in the odds market to play this situation.
prophecy: Belgium 1, Portugal 2
Odds provided by DraftKings
- Belgium wins (90 minutes): +150
- Belgium advances: -148
- Belgium -0.25 Asian Handicap: +112
- Lucky draw (90 minutes): +220
- Portugal wins (90 minutes): +205
- Portugal advances: +115
- Portugal -0.25 Asian Handicap: +155
- Two teams score: -134
- The total number of goals exceeds 2.5: +107