Bale And Co To Keep Belgians At Bay
Belgium v Wales
Wales are the surprise leaders in Euro 2016 Qualifying Group B, but face their stiffest test this weekend when they go to Belgium.
A 1-1 draw away to Bosnia & Herzegovina last time out will, at the end of the campaign, probably look like a good point for the Belgians. As it stands, however, it leaves Belgium in third position in the embryonic Group B table and three points behind this weekend’s opponents.
Marc Wilmots’ team have now lost only one – against Argentina in the quarter-finals of the World Cup – of their last 13 international fixtures, and have conceded just twice and scored 12 in four games since returning from Brazil 2014; a set of results that culminated with Wednesday night’s 3-1 win over Iceland.
Wales kicked off their Euro 2016 campaign with a slightly fortuitous 2-1 win in Andorra, aided by a world class Gareth Bale performance, but have impressed in backing that up with a home draw against Bosnia & Herzegovina and 2-1 win against Cyprus.
Bale was again instrumental in the win against Cyprus, but couldn’t add to the two goals that he scored in the campaign opener. Instead it was David Cotterill and Hal Robson-Kanu that provided the firepower before Andy King was shown a red card just after the interval leaving the Welsh to hang on for the points.
Christian Benteke has returned to the Belgium squad for the first time since missing the World Cup with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Vincent Kompany missed the midweek friendly with Iceland and is still doubtful for this one.
Andy King is unavailable for the visitors due to suspension, while Johnny Williams is also out after suffering a thigh injury during Ipswich’s 1-0 win against Watford last weekend, joining Simon Church and Dave Edwards on the sidelines.
Wales managed a 1-1 draw in Belgium when the teams met during Brazil 2014 qualification, Aaron Ramsey scoring a late equaliser after Kevin De Bruyne had given the hosts the lead. The reverse fixture was a little more one-sided however as goals from Kompany and Jan Vertonghen gave les Diables Rouges a 2-0 win following James Collins’ red card midway through the first half.
It’s been a dream start to the campaign for Chris Coleman’s men, but a visit to Belgium is where we will really see what this team has to offer. Odds of 10/1 on an away win echo my thoughts that this may be a step too far, but I do fancy that they’ll at least give Belgium a scare or two.
Wales +2 at odds of 20/23 looks a good bet in the Handicap market, while I also like the look of the 6/5 that both teams will score in the game –
Wales have scored in six of their last seven competitive away games, while Belgium have only failed to score once in 14 games at any venue.