Collect News Data
Jun 21, 2021 at 8pm UK
FT(HT: 0-0)
Hradecky (74' og.), Lukaku (81')

Preview: Finland vs. Belgium - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Finland vs. Belgium - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Monday's European Championship clash between Finland and Belgium, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Currently the world's top-ranked nation, Belgium have emerged as winners in their first two games of Euro 2020 and seek to continue their flawless run against Finland on Monday.

With maximum points enough to qualify for the last 16 with a game to spare, Roberto Martinez's men can now secure first place in Group B with either a draw or a victory, while their Finnish counterparts must win to ensure progress.

Match preview

Living up to their pre-tournament status among the favourites, Belgium have strode to successive away victories over Russia in Saint Petersburg and then Denmark in an emotionally-charged Copenhagen last time out.

A top-class cameo display from Kevin de Bruyne inspired his side to reverse an early deficit at the Parken Stadium, as fans and players paid tribute to stricken midfielder Christian Eriksen, who continues to recover from his mid-game cardiac arrest last weekend.

In beating the Danes 2-1 last Thursday, the Red Devils became the first team to come from behind to win at this edition of the Euros; stretching their perfect record in the competition - qualifiers included - to 12 wins out of 12. In fact, they have now won 21 of their last 25 matches altogether, with the only defeat in that time coming at Wembley in the Nations League last October.

Given recent runs to the latter stages of major competitions for the current 'golden generation', reaching the final for the first time since 1980 - when they lost 2-1 to West Germany in Rome - remains the goal of the most experienced squad at these Championships.

A multi-talented selection, which now contains five players with 100 or more caps, will come into their third and final group stage fixture amid familiar surroundings. Their fifth match in St Petersburg during the past three years sees them back on the Krestovsky Stadium turf as strong favourites to top their group - thereby securing a last-16 clash with one of the third-place finishers.

Though Martinez and company lost to France there in the 2018 World Cup semi-final, they recovered to beat England in the third-place play-off four days later, before later seeing off Russia in the picturesque port city on two separate occasions - a 4-1 win in their faultless qualifying campaign and last week's 3-0 canter on Group B's dramatic opening night.

On their debut in the European Championship - in fact their first appearance at any men's major tournament at all - Finland's fortunes have been mixed so far, but hope remains high that they can emulate near neighbours Iceland's run to the knockout stages in 2016.

Their second successive match in St Petersburg - after they lost what was effectively an away game to Russia last time out - will see them take the field in their favoured role: as unfancied underdogs with plenty of bite.

Though the Finns followed their controversial 1-0 win against Denmark with a defeat by the same scoreline, they are level with the Russians on three points going into the final round.

Therefore, Markku Kanerva's men will go through with a win - or even a draw if Russia lose to Denmark in the other Group B fixture, to be played concurrently. In an improbable dream scenario, Finland would actually top the group if they manage a famous win over Belgium and Russia fail to take maximum points.

Undoubtedly, the gulf in class between the Eagle-owls and their next opponents is significant, but there has been little between the teams in their 11 meetings to date. Perhaps surprisingly, Finland have posted four wins to Belgium's three and are unbeaten in seven matches against the Red Devils since a 6-1 loss in October 1968.

Chief carrier of their hopes on Monday evening will once more be Norwich City frontman Teemu Pukki, who scored 10 of his nation's 16 goals in qualifying - being involved in nearly 70% of their strikes on the road to the finals.

However, Pukki has yet to get off the mark this summer, as it was fellow striker Joel Pohjanpalo's match-winning header against Denmark that made him the first Finnish footballer to score at a major tournament. In all, that was his 10th international goal and a third in as many games, meaning that the Union Berlin man has now scored all of Finland's last three goals.

The pair's input will be vital if the Finns are to upset the odds and claim victory on Monday, particularly as their opening success - amid highly unusual circumstances - is the only win they have managed from their last eight matches; a sequence incorporating five defeats.

Finland European Championship form:
  • W
  • L

Finland form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L

Belgium European Championship form:
  • W
  • W

Belgium form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

With qualification secured, Belgium may make several changes, offering more minutes to talisman Kevin De Bruyne, who stepped up his recovery from facial fractures in Denmark and will feature again on Monday.

However, wing-back Timothy Castagne's campaign has been ended after a clash of heads versus Russia left the Leicester City man suffering from a similar injury, so Thomas Meunier is likely to continue on the right flank. Wing-back Thorgan Hazard suffered a minor knee sprain, so will not be risked.

Head coach Roberto Martinez has stated his keenness to hand midfield lynchpin Axel Witsel and injury-hit captain Eden Hazard starts too, as they look to build match-sharpness ahead of bigger tests to come. Meanwhile, much-fancied teenage forward Jeremy Doku may also see some action from the bench.

Though their opponents may opt to rotate and involve fringe members of their squad, Finland will instead retain a relatively unchanged lineup.

Having been defensively solid in their opening encounters, Markku Kanerva may resist the temptation to recall right-back Nikolai Alho, who overcame an ankle sprain to make the bench last time out in Russia.

While Jukka Raitala was forced to come off late on in the opening match due to a calf problem, he is fit to start again in a resolute rearguard, set to be shielded by all-action Rangers star Glen Kamara and 34-year-old captain Tim Sparv, who did not feature in Wednesday's defeat.

Finland possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; O'Shaughnessy, Arajuuri, Toivio; Uronen, Kamara, Sparv, Kauko, Raitala; Pohjanpalo, Pukki

Belgium possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Alderweireld, Dendoncker, Vertonghen; Meunier, De Bruyne, Witsel, T. Hazard; E. Hazard, Lukaku, Carrasco

We say: Finland 1-3 Belgium

As some of the names coming into the Belgium XI are even more illustrious than those they will replace for an already-qualified side, their technical superiority should win out over the Finns greater match-fitness.

De Bruyne, Witsel and the ever-elusive Hazard senior would brighten up any teamsheet, with only the odd defensive lapse to concern the Red Devils heading into the knockout stages.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

body check tags ::

amp_article__451996 : Collect and Make Data not in DataBase  : 
last updated article - 2021-06-21 16:20:42:
html db last update - 2021-06-19 15:20:07 :

ex - 7200 : read : write cache and make html
Read more!

This page is available in multiple languages
Share this article now:

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

We value your privacy

A part of our GDPR compliance we need to ask for your consent. We and our partners use technology such as cookies on Sports Mole to personalise content and ads, provide social media features, and analyse our traffic. Click below to consent to the use of this technology on Sports Mole.