Belgium begin their preparations for the World Cup this summer, and they take on reigning European champions Portugal. While we remember the visitors as the side who defended their way to glory in France two years ago, question marks have been raised about their ability to do the same this time around. Those worries only grew after throwing away a 2-0 lead at home to Tunisia earlier this week.
The Portuguese haven’t yet got their first choice defence up and running, but they’re dealing with ageing players in the heart of their back four. Add to that the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo has yet to join up with the squad, which leaves them low on quality. However, they do have options in attack, with Bernardo Silva seen as the heir to the Real Madrid great on the international stage.
Meanwhile, Andre Silva and Joao Mario both struck in Monday’s friendly. We expect them to follow up their two strikes in that clash with another goal here, especially as Belgium’s stars are only getting back to match fitness after a post-season break. We know that Roberto Martinez isn’t the most defensively savvy manager around. His side have conceded in 12 of their last 14 friendlies, while they shipped three goals in clashes with Mexico and Russia of late. Even without Ronaldo, Portugal should follow their lead.
The biggest issue for the visitors is that their defence is vulnerable ahead of a clash with one of the most impressive forward lines on the planet. The hosts have scored in 19 of their last 20 non-competitive matches, while they racked up 43 goals in 10 matches during qualifying, and surely a team of their talent should score this weekend. We are going for both teams to score in this meeting in Brussels, while we’re backing a 2-1 victory for the Belgians.
Belgium’s scoring record has been boosted by Romelu Lukaku, who will be playing to his club fans with this game shown on MUTV. The striker scored 11 times in seven starts as he helped his side qualify for Russia. While he finished the season slowly for United, Lukaku has scored in six straight games, with 10 goals across that run. Despite that form, the local fans aren’t too keen on the United man, and his outburst against them suggests that he has a point to prove. We see him scoring again this weekend, and he’s well priced for a goal.
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These two sides met in Portugal in 2016 ahead of the European championships, with Ronaldo scoring in a 2-1 victory for the home side.
This is Belgium’s final game before their squad announcement on June 4, so they could make big changes over the course of the game as Roberto Martinez analyses his options.
Cristiano Ronaldo was allowed the week off after winning the Champions League, so he won’t feature for the European champions.