Finland vs Belgium: Preview, prediction, team news, betting tips and odds
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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.
Finland vs Belgium: Kick-off time
Finland v Belgium will take place on Monday 21st June 2021. It will kick off at 8pm.
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.
|Photo: Bleacher report|
With no injuries or suspension concerns in the Finland squad, head coach Markku Kanerva has a full strength squad at his disposal.
Belgium will be without Leicester City full-back Timothy Castagne, who sustained a tournament-ending head injury in the opening game against Russia.
Injured: Timothy Castagne
Belgium have enjoyed a superb campaign so far in the Euros. They have picked up two wins from their opening two games and will aim to seal top spot in Group B with another victory on Monday.
Belgium possess world-class talent in their squad and we predict they will put this to good use to claim all three points.
Prediction: Finland 0-2 Belgium
Under 2.5 Goals
Under 2.5 goals have been scored in each of the last five meetings between these two nations and we're expecting another tight and tense 90-minutes on Monday. Finland don't tend to concede many goals and five of their last six matches have witnessed fewer than three goals being scored. If Belgium do rest the likes of Lukaku then it's tough to see the red Devils scoring many goals in this game.
BTTS – No
Both teams have scored in just two of the last five encounters between Finland and Belgium, and we don't see both teams getting on the scoreboard in this game. None of Finland's last four fixtures have seen both teams score and only two of Belgium's last five outings have ended with both teams finding the back of the net.
1-0 to Belgium
Even with a weakened team, we would expect Belgium to have just too much creativity for Finland and have backed the Red Devils to claim a 1-0 victory. Finland haven't conceded more than one goal in any of their last three matches and Belgium haven't scored more than one goal in any of their last six encounters with the Scandivanians.
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