Belgium, the leader of the national team rankings, started Euro 2020 with a 3-0 victory over the Russians, as if to show that they are considered one of the favourites for a reason. However, already in the second group game, the Belgians faced Denmark and had to be beaten after a very early goal after a defender's mistake. The Belgians, who had not found their game throughout the first half, came back into the match with the introduction of K. De Bruyne, who not only created a scoring opportunity for T. Hazard, but also scored a goal himself. This victory showed the character of the Belgians and, as we can see, Denmark is already in the top 8, so this only further confirms the fact that it is difficult to get back into the game against such a strong team.
The Belgians have not lost in 12 consecutive matches, but they do not have a good record against Portugal - the last time the Belgians beat the Portuguese was in the 1989 World Cup. Nevertheless, this year's Belgian team is full of individually talented players who show good team play. T. Hazard, E. Hazard, K. De Bruyne, R. Lukaku are the main leaders of the team and can be a problem for the often stumbling Portuguese defence to contain.
To win against Portugal, it is important for the Belgians to start strong and not lose their heads, as they did against Denmark. In a similar scenario, the Portuguese might score more than 1 goal and it would be more difficult to get back into the match against this team. Starting the game well, being confident and not letting the Portuguese impose their game will be key for the Belgians to win.
The group stage of Euro 2020 has been a turbulent one for the Portuguese national team. In the opening match, the Portuguese, who were tied with Hungary until the 84th minute, scored 3 goals in a matter of minutes and won the final match confidently, although the scoreline here may give a false impression of the Portuguese game. In the very next game against Germany, the opponents showed how leaky the Portuguese defence was by scoring 4 goals, almost all of which were scored after gross mistakes by the Portuguese defence. A 2-2 draw with the world champion France allowed the Portuguese to secure their place in the eighth round, but even in that game the French came very close to scoring a third goal that would have left the Portuguese on the back foot.
Portugal is the winner of the 2016 European Championship and defending champions in this tournament, but it will take a much better defence than we saw in the group stage. It is hardly possible to stop the Belgian attack completely, and it will be difficult to score more goals than the Belgians in a high-scoring match. For Portugal to win this game, they will need to show championship character and not make any gross defensive errors, because attack is not the biggest problem for the Portuguese team and we will definitely see a Portuguese goal in this game. The final result will depend on how the Portuguese manage to slow down the Belgian attack.
Predicted starting line-ups:
Courtois; Alderweireld, Boyata, Vertonghen; Meunier, Tielemans, Witsel, T Hazard; E Hazard, Lukaku, De Bruyne;
Patricio; Semedo, Dias, Pepe, Guerreiro; Moutinho, Danilo, Sanches; Bernardo, Ronaldo, Jota.
This should be a productive game of football as both teams are showing good attacking prowess, but the fact is that we haven't seen good defending from the Portuguese, and if the Belgians have the chance to attack as freely as the Germans and French have done in this game, we could see a lot of goals. The Belgian team looked more confident in the group stage and has fewer gaps in its game, so it is likely that it will be the Belgians who will go through to the next round after a tough fight.