Belgium v England – Preview, Predictions and Best Bets
By BET Contributor
Belgium host England at Den Dreef Stadion in Heverlee on Sunday night in the UEFA Nations League. Belgium are top of the group and two points ahead of England, although The Three Lions may have to forfeit their final match against Iceland due to Covid-19 travel restrictions anyway. England won the first meeting between these sides in October as Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount scored to overturn a 1-0 deficit.
The Red Devils have been in excellent form for many years. They finished third at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, beating England 2-0 in the third place playoff. They then won all 10 of their Euro 2020 qualifiers, scoring 40 goals and conceding just three.
In the current UEFA Nations League, they beat Iceland home and away and Denmark away from home before the away loss to England. On Wednesday, they beat Switzerland 2-1 in a friendly as Michy Batshuayi scored twice.
Belgium Team News
Roberto Martinez has had some withdrawals to deal with. Eden Hazard is missing due to Covid-19, Brighton’s Leandro Trossard is out injured and so is Leicester City’s wingback, Timothy Castagne.
Romelu Lukakau should be recalled despite Batshuayi’s brace in midweek and Kevin De Bruyne will also return and will captain the side. The biggest selection issue is who to play as left wingback so it could be Nacer Chadli or Thorgan Hazard with Castagne and Yannick Carrasco missing.
Belgium will be very motivated by facing England with so many Premier League players and teammates in opposition. They will also want to get some revenge for the defeat in October. England and Denmark are also only two points behind Belgium so a victory is needed.
The results of late for England have generally been good but the performances have been a concern. In Euro 2020 qualifying, the side won seven of their eight matches, only losing away to Czechia but scoring 37 goals in those matches.
A 0-0 away draw and 1-0 home defeat to Denmark in the UEFA Nations League has seen optimism and positivity take a hit despite playing much of the loss at home with ten men. England also beat the Republic of Ireland 3-0 on Thursday night in a friendly.
England Team News
Gareth Southgate will be without Reece James for this game due to suspension and Joe Gomez picked up a knee injury in training and could be set for a spell on the sidelines. Both Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Ward-Prowse withdrew from the squad due to injuries but 17-year-old Dortmund starlet, Jude Bellingham has been called up.
Southgate will likely continue with a 3-4-3 formation but can at least call upon a natural left wingback in Ben Chilwell, who has excelled since his move to Chelsea. Jordan Pickford is likely to start in goal despite a plethora of errors for Everton.
England will want to win this game, but avoiding defeat and getting a draw would probably be acceptable for Southgate. His side will defend in a 5-4-1 shape and look to spring Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford on counter-attacks in support of Harry Kane. With five defenders and two holding players, the onus will be on the three attackers to relieve pressure.
With the news that England may need to forfeit their final match, they probably won’t top the group anyway so they don’t need to risk defeat to try to win this game.
Belgium are 5 matches without a clean sheet
The Red Devils have seen BTTS in each of their last 5 matches
Belgium have seen over 2.5 goals in 4 of their last 5 matches
The Red Devils are 27 games unbeaten at home (last defeat: September 2016)
Belgium have scored in each of their last 17 home matches
England have won 1 of their last 3 competitive matches
The Three Lions have drawn 2 and lost 2 of their last 7 away matches
This should be a hard-fought game and a draw looks the most likely outcome or a narrow Belgium win.