EURO 2020 Group B is all about Belgium as the market leaders and the remaining trio in Finland, Denmark, and Russia battling for the second-place finish. That, however, doesn’t guarantee that the Red Devils will walk away from this stage unharmed as they take on the hungry underdogs.
EURO 2020 Group B Fixtures
Denmark vs Finland – Saturday, June 12
Belgium vs Russia – Saturday, June 12
Finland vs Russia – Wednesday, June 16
Denmark vs Belgium – Thursday, June 17
Russia vs Denmark – Monday, June 21
Finland vs Belgium – Monday, June 21
Belgium – Flawless
Flawless would be the right word to describe Belgium’s run through the EURO qualifiers, which secured the Red Devils a place in the history book. After such a display, it’s hard to look past the Belgian side as a serious candidate to hoist the trophy in England.
Belgium field way too much talent for us to cover all here, but their main engine is no other than Romelu Lukaku. At the age of 25, he was already Belgium’s all-time top goalscorer, and is now leading the stats with 59 goals from 91 appearances for the Red Devils.
What’s perhaps even more impressive is Lukaku’s tally of 48 goals in his last 49 international appearances. With Martinez’ fabled attacking-minded football and more than enough creative talent around him, Lukaku is in a prime position to showcase his goalscoring prowess.
With veteran lineup in the back and strikers reaching their prime years, EURO 2020 just might be Belgian’s last and possibly their best chance to put end the era of their “Golden Generation” on a high note. The motivation to deliver is there, and so is quality, so what are the Red Devils missing?
Nothing really, but there’s also the element of unpredictability, which saw Belgium crash out of the EUROS 2016 against Wales. However, one slip-up doesn’t take away from the fact that Roberto Martinez’s side are as deadly as ever and boast the best raw stats out of any team at the tournament.
Since finishing third at the 2018 World Cup, Martinez’ men won 20 matches out of 23 played while averaging 3.35 goals per game. What’s even more impressive is that under Martinez, Belgium have suffered only three losses in 40 fixtures.
Belgium have been under the spotlight since 2014, and now it’s the prime time for them to deliver on the expectations. With world-class strikers in the front, a veteran lineup in the back and creative midfield to glue everything together, the Belgians look poised to take one step further from their success in 1980 and take home the long-overdue gold.
Denmark – Overlooked Quality
Denmark enter EURO 2020 with a chip on tier shoulders as they look to shake off the tag of a dark horse and showcase all their quality. The Red and White stunned the European juggernauts in 1992 when they won EURO in Sweden, and now, 29 years later, it’s time to cause a bit more chaos on the pitch.
It’s hard not to like Denmark as a punch-up underdogs. Kasper Hjulmand’s men have proven to be extremely tough to beat, with only two losses (inside 90 minutes) since 2016. Interestingly enough, both losses happened against the current world no.1 Belgium.
Since their failed attempt to qualify for EURO 2016, Denmark have started to show signs of improvement. They have made it into the last-16 at 2018 Worlds, only to get eliminated by the eventual finalists, Croatia.
The transition to a more traditional, possession-based football has proven beneficial for this side, who boast a well-organised squad, backed up by a strong spine in Kasper Schmeichel and captain Simon Kjaer. And let’s not forget the creative midfield with Christian Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
One thing that could concern you is Denmark’s lack of offensive threat. They seem to rely too much on Eriksen to make things happen, even though they have other options in Kasper Dolberg, Martin Braithwaite and Yussuf Poulsen.
Denmark might not repeat their success from 1992, but they’re an appealing underdog that should not be overlooked. Their physical foundations, creative midfield and plenty of undervalued talent elsewhere will make them a resilient team to face – even for Europe’s best.
Denmark have all the attributes needed to make some noise, and while winning Group B will likely be out of their reach, finishing second is a reasonable and achievable goal.
Finland – EURO Newcomers
Finland secured their maiden place at a major tournament in November 2019, when they crushed Lichtenstein 3-0 and broke a streak of over 30 futile qualification campaigns. As a historically unsuccessful nation, things started to come together when Markku Kanerva took over for Hans Backe.
Slowly but surely, the Eagle-Owls improved and started gaining confidence and momentum, snowballing them to where they’re now. As a team that doesn’t feature many high-profile names, Finland is all about their youngsters in Teemu Pukki, Tim Sparv, Jukka Raitala and Joona Toivo, who have proven their worth as crucial members of the team.
Overall, it’s hard to be overly excited about Finland and a potential miracle run. They lack star players to help them take a step further and are very inefficient with the ball (10.13 shots per game across the last three years), largely due to a lack of proper strikers outside of Pukki.
Finland might not have the quality needed to compete for the title, nor would it be fair to expect they’ll make it much further than the group stage. Underestimating the Owls could prove costly as Finland can bite back, but with Belgium, Denmark, and Russia in the group, Finland’s chances to make it out alive seem slim to none.
Russia – Regression
Three years back, not many people – Russian fans included – expected their team to do well at the 2018 World Cup, but Stanislav Cherchesov’s side proved everyone wrong with a remarkable win against Spain en route to a narrow quarter-finals exit against Croatia.
Although a marginal success in the greater picture, it was what Russia needed to get the fans back on their side and boost their morale. However, the so-called honeymoon phase soon dried out, and Russia showed signs of struggles once again.
A big issue with the team, specifically their boss Cherchesov, is his tendency to rely too much on the veteran lineup, while not allowing younger talent to show off their quality. Almost half (12/30) of the squad have five international caps of less.
Russia seems to have regressed over the years, and without any major changes, it’s hard to imagine the Red Bear will ever come close to their miracle run at the 2018 World Cup. They have done well against less formidable opponents but have been showing weaknesses when faced with accomplished opposition.
We don’t expect much from this side. Progress via a third-place finish is likely, but we wouldn’t bet our money on it.
EURO 2020 Group B Predictions
Prediction: Belgium to win outright – 2 units – 6.50 at Bet365
Prediction: Belgium & Turkey (Finalists) – 0.25 units – 81.00 at Bet365
Prediction: Belgium & France (Finalists) – 0.25 units – 17.00 at Bet365
Prediction: Belgium (1st), Denmark (2nd) (Group Forecast) – 1 unit – 2.75 at Bet365