Belgium v Russia – Low-Scoring Affair?Stats
Belgium v Russia
Belgium were good when everything clicked into place against Algeria, but Russia will provide a sterner examination.
Belgium were slow starters in their opening game against Algeria and found themselves 1-0 down inside half an hour when Sofiane Feghouli converted from the penalty spot. However, les Diables Rouges showed their class in the second half with two quality team goals converted by substitutes Marouane Fellaini then Dries Mertens.
The 2-1 victory means it is four straight wins and 11 competitive matches without a defeat for Marc Wilmots’ side. Mertens now has two goals in his last two appearances with each proving to be the decisive goal in the match, while Belgium have not conceded from open play in over 300 minutes of football.
Russia, meanwhile, laboured to a 1-1 draw in their opening group game against South Korea. Lee Keun-Ho had put the Koreans ahead with just over 20 minutes to go, but Alexander Kerzhakov levelled for Fabio Capello’s men shortly after being introduced from the substitute’s bench.
It was the Zenit St Petersburg striker’s 26th international goal, moving him level with Vladimir Beschastnykh as the country’s all-time top scorer. It also means that Russia are now unbeaten in their last 11 games and have lost only two of their previous 21 fixtures.
Belgium captain Vincent Kompany missed training on Thursday due to a ‘slight strain in the groin’ and worked individually with the medical staff. But Eden Hazard has been declared fit by Wilmots who said on Twitter that the scan that the player underwent following the Algeria game was ‘preventative’ and there is ‘no problem’ for the Russia game.
Alexander Kerzhakov’s equaliser against South Korea, just three minutes after being introduced as a substitute, will push him further towards the fore of Capello’s thinking when selecting his starting XI.
Belgium won the most recent meeting between the two teams back in November 2010 thanks to a couple of goals from Romelu Lukaku. They also won a significant clash in the group stages of the 2002 World Cup with Marc Wilmots scoring the decisive goal in a 3-2 win that would see Belgium progress to the knockout stages and Russia eliminated.
At a shade of odds on (20/21) Belgium look a little too short in the Match Odds market for my liking. Although they were good when everything clicked into gear against Algeria, there were also signs of nerves in those opening 45 minutes. Russia weren’t anything spectacular in their opening game, but we know what to expect from this Fabio Capello-shaped side and they will be extremely difficult to break down. The draw at odds of 13/5 is the selection in this market.
Goals are likely to be sparse and the 4/6 about Under 2.5 goals is a decent bet;
providing Vincent Kompany is declared fit, then I’d be looking more towards the 15/8 about there being fewer than 1.5 goals scored in the game.