February 28, 2024

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Belgium v Russia: Kevin de Bruyne out injured

Kevin de Bruyne
De Bruyne has won 80 caps for Belgium
Dates: 11 June-11 July. Venues: Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome, Seville, St Petersburg. Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 Live, iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app. Click here for more details

Belgium will be without key midfielder Kevin de Bruyne for their opening European Championship Group B game against Russia in St Petersburg.

De Bruyne continues to recover from a fractured eye socket and nose suffered in the Champions League final, while Axel Witsel has an Achilles problem.

Russia were dealt a blow a day before their opener as midfielder Andrei Mostovoy tested positive for Covid-19.

Defender Roman Yevgenyev took his place in the 26-man squad.

Russia striker Artem Dzyuba has 29 international goals and is just two short of becoming the country’s all-time leading scorer.

“There are some nerves but of the pleasant kind because this is an important tournament,” he said. “Like any player I would like to score but the team comes first.

“I perfectly remember that the Belgians are very strong, disciplined and organised. I perfectly understand what is expected of me in the game. We have the experience and we have analysed all our matches.”

LAWRO’S PREDICTION

Russia had a good World Cup when they hosted it in 2018, reaching the quarter-finals.

Home advantage will help them again here but Belgium also enjoyed themselves in that tournament and although they lost in the semi-finals, they beat England at St Petersburg in the third-placed play-off, and I’m sure they won’t mind going back there.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-0

See the predictions in full here

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • This is the sixth meeting between Belgium and Russia at a major tournament (World Cup + European Championship), but the first at the European Championship. Russia won the first two encounters at the 1970 and 1982 World Cup, both as USSR. Since then, Belgium have prevailed in all three subsequent matches.

Belgium

  • Belgium – the first team to qualify for Euro 2020 – are taking part in their sixth European Championship. It’s only the second time they have qualified for two consecutive editions of the tournament, after 1980 and 1984.
  • Since they were beaten finalists against West Germany in 1980, Belgium have never reached the last four of a European Championship.
  • None of Belgium’s last 12 games at the European Championship have ended in a draw (W5 L7), a run which started in the 1980 final (1-2 vs West Germany).
  • Belgium were one of only two teams – alongside Italy – to win 100% of their games in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign (10/10). They also scored more goals than any other team (40) while setting the joint-best defensive record (3 goals conceded in 10 games).
  • Romelu Lukaku is Belgium’s top scorer at major tournaments (World Cup + European Championship), with seven goals in 15 games. Six of those seven goals have come in the group stages.

Russia

  • As the USSR, Russia won the first ever European Championship in 1960, beating Yugoslavia 2-1 after extra time in the final. They have lost the subsequent three European Championship finals they have reached: 1964, 1972 and 1988.
  • Since the dissolution of the USSR, Russia’s best performance at a European Championship came in 2008 when they reached the semis – they were beaten 3-0 by eventual winners Spain. That’s the only time they have made the knockout stages of the competition in that period.
  • Only Harry Kane (17) was directly involved in more goals than Russia’s Artem Dzyuba (14, nine goals and five assists) in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

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