Euro 2020 round of 16: Belgium vs. Portugal preview, predictions and team news
Cristiano Ronaldo will be out to make football history in Seville
Sunday’s heavyweight clash between Belgium and holders Portugal is arguably the tie of the round and could well be decided by the performances of the star strikers on show. For the Red Devils Romelu Lukaku has scored three times at Euro 2020 but topping the goal charts so far is Portuguese skipper Cristiano Ronaldo with five.
The 36-year-old has already broken a number of records during Euro 2020: he has become the all-time leading scorer in European Championship history and is the first player to appear and score in five tournaments.
After his group-stage exploits the Juventus star has also equalled Ali Daei’s all-time international record of 109 goals and will be out to make history in Seville.
Belgium winger Yannick Carrasco has issued a warning to his team-mates. “We must not give him a single opportunity, he shoots everywhere,” he said. “You have to try to keep it as far as possible from the surface, to control it well. It’s up to us not to leave any space.”
The winners of this tie will play Italy in the quarter-final in Munich on Friday 2 July.
Kick-off time and TV details
The round of 16 clash between Belgium and Portugal takes place on Sunday 27 June at La Cartuja in Seville, Spain. Kick-off is at 8pm (BST) and the match is live on ITV and ITV Hub.
Belgium team news
Roberto Martinez has “arguably the most in-depth squad in the whole tournament and he will deploy the full cavalry” against Portugal, says SportsKeeda’s Ume Elvis. Eden Hazard could be handed another start while Kevin de Bruyne will also retain his place after another “immaculate display” from midfield. Full-back Timothy Castagne has been ruled out of Euro 2020 after suffering a double fracture to his eye socket.
Belgium possible starting XI: Courtois; Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Vertonghen; Meunier, De Bruyne, Witsel, T. Hazard; Carrasco, Lukaku, E. Hazard
Portugal team news
Bruno Fernandes and João Félix “may struggle to get in the side” after Portugal produced their “most balanced performance of the tournament” in the 2-2 draw with France, says Uefa.com reporter Carlos Machado. “The team looked more stable with the introduction of João Moutinho, Renato Sanches and, later, João Palhinha.”
Portugal possible starting XI: Rui Patrício; Nélson Semedo, Rúben Dias, Pepe, Guerreiro; Palhinha, Renato Sanches, João Moutinho; Bernardo Silva, Ronaldo, Diogo Jota
Pundit predictions: who will win?
Alex Young, London Evening Standard: “This tie could really go either way, but we should be treated with goals. Roberto Martinez looks to prefer a more cautious approach despite his embarrassment of riches, and face a Portugal side who have already shipped six goals. Will Belgium take off the shackles? They will be concerned about the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva and Diogo Jota but could be wise to do so. Prediction: Belgium 3-2 Portugal.”
Steve Luckings, The National: “Belgium boast the sort of attacking talent that is the envy of world football, and in Romelu Lukaku arguably the most complete centre-forward left at the tournament. With Kevin de Bruyne working his way back to fitness, Portugal may well opt for the midfield trio that served them so well against Les Bleus, which means Bruno Fernandes again starting on the bench. The European champions look shaky at the back with goalkeeper Rui Patricio and Manchester City defender Ruben Dias struggling. Prediction: Portugal to relinquish Euro crown.”
Ume Elvis, SportsKeeda: “The Red Devils sauntered their way through the group stage which showed their readiness to take on all comers. By contrast, Portugal have not exactly set the stage alight but it will be foolhardy to write off a side with Cristiano Ronaldo in it. We are predicting a victory for the Belgians with goals to be scored at both ends. Prediction: Belgium 2-1 Portugal.”
Mike Tuckerman, The Roar: “I reckon Belgium win the battle of the big guns. They looked decidedly impressive in topping their group but more than that, they looked like they still had room to improve. I feel like Portugal have peaked already, so this is Belgium’s game to lose.”
Rob Dawson, ESPN: “Belgium are the No.1-ranked team in the world and have shown enough in the group stage to be considered favourites against Portugal, who were dismantled by Germany, but with Ronaldo in form with five goals already, you never know.”