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UEFA Nations League: It’s Belgium’s Chance To Go Top!


UEFA Nations League: It’s Belgium’s Chance To Go Top!

Belgium vs Switzerland

World Cup 2018 semi-finalists Belgium welcome Switzerland in Brussels this weekend for the UEFA Nations League, and expectations are high for Roberto Martinez’ men who have a huge chance of claiming the solo lead in Group A2.

The in-form El Nati, of course, will be keen to say otherwise. After all, they did demolish Iceland in their opening game of the tournament last month, seemingly sending a message to Belgium that they are coming for them.

However, there’s a reason why the Red Devils are currently the top team in the world, and they will be determined to show that this time around.

Talking Points

Belgium have been sensational over the past few years, to say the least. While their so-called “Golden Generation” failed to deliver the most-coveted silverware in the recent World Cup, their semi-final appearance is a testament to how dangerous they are.

Besides, they only beat the likes of England and Brazil on their way to their bronze medal finish.

Now, they are the top-rated team in the world—making history as one of the first ever teams (together with France) to share the top spot in the rankings.

The Red Devils head to the Switzerland match at the back of three straight wins, including back-to-back victories against Scotland and Iceland in September that saw them score a total of seven goals.

They hit four unanswered goals in their friendly match with the Scots before firing three against Iceland in their first UEFA Nations League game. Romelu Lukaku scored three of those goals, with Michy Batshuayi and Eden Hazard bagging two each.

Martinez will be concerned about the recent form of Lukaku and Batshuayi. Lukaku hasn’t scored in Manchester United’s past six games as the Old Trafford club stumbled both in their domestic and European campaigns.

Batshuayi, meanwhile, has been abysmal for Valencia, finding the back of the net just once in 10 competitive matches.

However, the 45-year-old manager will remain confident about their chances against Switzerland, thanks to Eden Hazard who has been on fire for Chelsea in the past months. The streaky Belgian forward has already scored eight goals in all competitions for the Blues, seven of which came in the Premier League.

He also boasts three assists in the English top flight, helping Chelsea stay unbeaten in the competition.

Hazard will be the main attacking threat for Belgium, and Martinez is undoubtedly leaning on his star striker to lead them in their conquest of Switzerland.

Vladimir Petkovic’s charges know the threat that Belgium bring, especially on their home turf, but they will hope to ride on their six-to-nothing thrashing of Iceland in the Group A2 opener to turn things around.

Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri, Wolfsburg’s Admir Mehmedi and Hoffenheim’s Steven Zuber were all on target in that game—grabbing the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights in the process—so it’s not wrong for Petkovic to believe that they can win.

Nonetheless, their friendly loss to England shouldn’t help their cause, especially after exposing once again their habit of collapsing in the second of a match, similar to what we have seen in their World Cup 2018 stint.

History

Belgium won three of their last five matches with Switzerland, but they have only met once at the turn of the century. Their only meeting in the 2000s was a friendly at Switzerland’s Stade de Geneve two years ago, a fixture that saw Belgium top the hosts 1-2.

Kevin De Bruyne scored the winner in that game after Lukaku equalised for them. Unfortunately, the Manchester City playmaker is set to miss this fight due to injury.

With the two teams lacking information on how to play against each other, Belgium will be happy to be playing at home. The Belgians are undefeated at home since 2016, boasting a 16-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Betting Tip

Correct Score Belgium 2-1 @ 7.00

To no one’s surprise, Belgium are commanding the UEFA Nations League 2018 odds. Even the Asian Handicap odds at SBOBET are giving Petkovic’s men a huge handicap just to even the playing field.

However, as Martinez said, the Swiss could prove to be really difficult opposition. And I expect that to be the case.

Belgium will be missing some key players, and I think that will make them struggle a little bit. Switzerland, on the other hand, will surely be determined to win, knowing the fact that they have nothing really to lose as the underdogs.

I predict the match to be close, and I see a repeat result of their 1-2 friendly—with Hazard scoring this time.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

 


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