After the group stage of Euro 2020, which has filled watching fans with excitement, we now head into the make-or-break elimination phase of the tournament. As one of the competition favorites, Portugal have done just enough to reach the Round of 16, qualifying as one of the best third-placed teams.
This is actually reminiscent of the Euro 2016 tournament, when Portugal finished third and scraped into the knockout stage, before going all the way to lift the iconic Henri Delaunay Trophy. A single goal by Eder in extra-time was enough for Portugal to beat France in the final.
Following a similar trajectory at the Euro 2020 tournament, Portugal aim to retain their European Championship title, although their bid will face a stiff challenge in the Round of 16. In what promises to be a thrilling encounter, millions will be eager to watch and bet on Belgium v Portugal, taking place on June 27 at Wembley Stadium in London. Belgium are slight favorites to win at +150, but with odds of +210, Portugal are still in with a good chance of beating the Belgians.
Kevin De Bruyne isn’t just one of the best in the world, but one of the best midfielders EVER.
— Goal (@goal) June 25, 2021
Known as the Red Devils and led by Spanish coach Roberto Martínez, the Belgians comfortably swept aside all opposition to top Group B, winning all three games against Russia, Denmark, and Finland.
By comparison, Portugal featured in the so-called ‘Group of Death’ and arguably faced much tougher competition to qualify. After crushing Hungary 3-0 in their opening encounter, Portugal suffered a stinging 4-2 defeat against Germany. Teetering on the brink of elimination, the Portuguese managed to grab a 2-2 draw against France, which booked their progress.
Reaching the Round of 16 is largely thanks to the goals of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has already amassed a tally of five in those three Group F games. Along with becoming the all-time leading European Championship scorer, the phenomenal 36-year-old superstar has now matched the international scoring record of 109 goals, equaling Iranian football legend Ali Daei.
🇵🇹 Cristiano Ronaldo = Portugal legend 💪
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 23, 2021
Heading into the Round of 16 battle with Belgium, Portugal are considered slight underdogs But this Portugal side has already shown they should never be underestimated. After all, they overcame similar adversity to win Euro 2016, which is a feat they are eager to repeat.
Nevertheless, head coach Fernando Santos will need to ensure that Portugal are at their best, if they are to successfully overcome the many threats they will face against Belgium, who boast a side packed with enviable talent. Having scored three goals in his three Group B games, Romelu Lukaku is currently one of the most feared strikers in world football.
Lukaku has the support of impressive creative talent, including Real Madrid star Eden Hazard and Manchester City maestro Kevin De Bruyne, both of whom can turn games with flashes of brilliance. However, with Bernardo Silva of Man City and Bruno Fernandes of Man Utd, this Portugal side has enough creative flair to be more than an equal match.
Whatever the outcome, this tie between Belgium and Portugal promises to be a fascinating encounter.