Group B: Belgium vs. Russia Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (+110 / -148)|
|Day | Time||Saturday | 3 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday evening via DraftKings.|
Since it was announced Belgium star attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne would miss Saturday’s opening Group B match in Russia, the Belgium line and total have moved considerably lower.
De Bruyne is one of the best attacking creators in the world, and the Belgians will miss him. That being said, both teams enter the Euro 2020 tournament with defensive question marks.
Belgium, which is a solid favorite to win this group, is one of the betting favorites to win the title, but it will travel across the continent to St. Petersburg to face Russia in front of its home fans.
De Bruyne’s Absence From Opener Hinders Belgium
The Red Devils love to play a high line under manager Roberto Martinez, but that becomes much riskier when you have aging center backs like they do. Both Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have struggled at their clubs in the last two seasons, which is a sign they’re in physical decline.
The Belgians play a back three, with Thomas Meunier and Yannick Carrasco as the outside fullbacks that look to get forward and provide the width.
With those two taking that approach, Belgium has wide forwards in Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens, who work best cutting inside. They will feed Romelu Lukaku up top, who was one of the best strikers in Europe this year.
Lukaku averaged 0.71 expected goals and 0.24 expected assists per 90 minutes for Inter Milan in their title-winning campaign, plus he’s been at his best when up top for the Belgians instead of off to the right, which he did at times in the 2018 World Cup.
Without De Bruyne, the creative responsibilities will go to Youri Tielemans, but he’s more of a traditional central midfielder than the attacking kind.
Even though the Belgians are at the end of their golden generation, most of their top-tier talent is in its peak or near the end on the attack. They look like an “over” team in this tournament, with defenders aging beyond their best and potentially being exposed by the Russians in transition.
Russian Looking to Make Noise Against Group Foes
Russia made a Cinderella run to the 2018 World Cup, making it out of the group before upsetting Spain in the round of 16 on penalties before going out on penalties in a quarterfinal-round meeting with Croatia. Most of its team is back, with some defensive question marks and excellent attacking pieces.
Three of the first names on the team sheet are up front, with attacking midfielders Aleksei Miranchuk and Aleksandr Golovin playing into target forward Artem Dzyuba. Miranchuk and Golovin didn’t get a ton of minutes for their respective clubs, but shined with 0.32 and 0.40 xA per 90, respectively.
The Russians have uncertainty in goal following the departure of Igor Akinfeev. None of their three current goalies have a ton of experience playing for Russia, and none have noted success in their club careers. Anton Shunin, the likely starter at age 34, has just 12 career national-team appearances since 2007.
Russia benefitted from a very weak qualifying group for this tournament, but allowed seven goals in two meetings with the Belgians. Although De Bruyne played in those matches, it’s difficult to see how the Russian defense will prevent Belgium from creating chances.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Totals across the Euros are deflated as the market is expecting much tighter games and lower-scoring affairs given how the entire season went across Europe, with less pressing and fewer shots. I respect the market’s view on that, but at some point the totals become too deflated.
Belgium and Russia met twice in qualifying, and the Russians didn’t show that they could stop Belgium either time. It’s hard to see how they’ll stop them in this opening match as well.
Anything plus-money on the total going over 2.5 goals is worth a look, as is a second-half over play if the game gets off to a slow start.
Pick: Total Over 2.5 Goals (+100 or better)
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