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Clash Of The Heavyweights

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The business end of the competition is now officially underway as teams prepare for the more gruelling part of the tournament. Every team that has made its way into the final 16 will think they have a good chance of winning it if they crawl their way past their first knockout hurdle. Few will higher hopes than defending champions Portugal and the World #1 Belgium.



Belgium took all nine points available as they cruised through the group stages. An emphatic three goals against Russia which included a Romelu Lukaku brace helped them kickstart their campaign. Although Denmark poised a scare in the second fixture, the introduction of Kevin de Bruyne settled the affair. Lukaku scored his third goal of the campaign in their third match against Finland to seal the deal. No glitches or hiccups on the part of the Belgian Red Devils. They will be confident that they can beat any team on their day. The World’s No.1 status wasn’t harboured by luck!


Group F is the only group that did not feature a Group leader taming at least more than seven points. The final day truly encapsulated why it was called the Group of Death. Hats off to Hungary for managing two points with a draw each against France and Germany. Portugal has already faced two of the strongest teams in the competition and will hope that their experience can take them past Belgium’s Golden Generation. Cristiano Ronaldo will be on his toes as he prepares to set yet another record!



Thorgan Hazard did not feature in the last outing against Finland but should be available for the knockout stage. Roberto Martinez will likely field his best XI if there are no further injury concerns. A three-man defence has been part of Belgium’s identity for a while now and it will give extra stability against a dominant Portuguese attack.



BELGIUM PROBABLE XI: Courtois; Vermaelen, Boyata, Vertonghen; Thorgan Hazard, Witsel, Tielemans, Muenier; Eden Hazard, De Bruyne, Lukaku


Danilo Pereira picked up an injury in the last match against France. There are doubts of his return to the line-up but is likely to be featured. Joao Felix is also available but might only make the bench for Portugal. Fernando Santos did not have the luxury of resting any of his key men and with fewer days to prepare, it will more or less be the same team that was deployed against France.




PORTUGAL PROBABLE XI: Patricio; Guerreiro, Dias, Pepe, Semedo; Danilo, Sanches, Moutinho; Jota, Ronaldo, Silva




Although Romelu Lukaku has bagged three goals for Belgium, no player has made more of an impact than Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne. The 29-year-old only featured for two games and scored a crucial goal and assisted twice in those fixtures. KDB showed his class and proved why he deserves to be called one of the best midfielders in world football.



There’s no doubting his ability and with players like Hazard and Lukaku for him to supply, Belgium’s attack is one of the best in the world. With the experienced Pepe and Dias as the centre backs De Bruyne will need to be at his best to find an opening for Belgium.



Well, there simply isn’t more words to describe this living legend. He scored in all three group games and is leading the charts in the tournament with five goals. His campaign started by setting a new record of being the first player to feature in five European Championships. He then went onto break Michel Platini’s record of most goals in the competition. His two goals from the spot against France has helped him equal the record set by Ali Daei for the greatest number of international goals in men’s football. A record-breaking campaign by all means.



Despite featuring a much better squad than the one that won the cup in 2016, no player from Portugal has remotely been good enough as the world’s best No.7. In fact, almost every big name in the tournament is under the shadow of the great man. Will he once more carry Portugal to the finals?



Belgium and Portugal are among the favourites to win the tournament. For the rest of the pack, this fixture will help eliminate one big name from the campaign. With both Belgium and Portugal eyeing the trophy, the fixture will be an enticing win.

FootTheBall predicts a victory for Portugal, albeit a tough one. Portugal progresses to the quarter-finals on penalties with a 1-1 draw after extra time!

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