World Cup semi-finalists Belgium come into this tournament with the strongest qualifying record and a squad bursting with world-class talent.
Roberto Martinez’s men are about 6/1 with the bookies to win the whole tournament, and 5/6 to win their relatively favourable group.
With the likes of Romelu Lukaku (€11.0m), Kevin De Bruyne (€10.5m) and Eden Hazard (€10.0m) all either at the peak or entering the twilights of their careers, this is perhaps the Red Devils’ best-ever chance to win a major tournament.
In partnership with UEFA, we continue our series of EURO 2020 articles by examining Belgium in detail to see if any of their players can compete for a place in your Fantasy teams.
Road To Qualification
Belgium’s qualification record for EURO 2020 was as close to flawless as you could hope to see. Drawn into relatively easy Group I, they faced Scotland, Russia, Kazakhstan, San Marino and Cyprus, taking full full advantage by winning all ten games.
In fact, Belgium’s only defeat since EURO 20202 qualifying began was their 2-1 Nations League loss to England in October 2020. Despite this, Roberto Martínez’s men still won their Nations League group by five points.
In qualifying, Belgium scored 40 goals and conceded just three. This made them the strongest attacking side and gave them the joint-best defence with Turkey in terms of goals conceded, although the Crescent Stars kept more clean sheets (eight to seven). Meanwhile, the Red Devils’ goal difference of +24 meant they were seeded first for the EURO 2020 draw too.
Having reached the semi-finals of both EURO 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, Belgium have more than proven their tournament credentials although it is worth noting the biggest threat to going one step further this time around is injury.
If one or more of their key players are struck down, especially in defence, their experienced yet ageing, squad could be exposed. The panic over De Bruyne’s injury in the UEFA Champions League final highlights how important it is Martínez has his best players available this summer.
The former Wigan and Everton manager has consistently used a back-three for the national team, sometimes lining them up in a 3-4-3 shape and 3-4-2-1 at others. Using the quality they have in all areas of the pitch, the Red Devils can attack effectively both out-wide and through the middle and, as a result, they are strong favourites to win their group which, of course, bodes well for their plethora of strong Fantasy options.
From Qualifying Group I to EURO 2020 Group B, Belgium find themselves once again drawn against Russia. Martínez will probably be quietly pleased with this development, having beaten the 2018 World Cup hosts 3-1 and 4-1 in qualifying.
More interestingly, they faced ‘dark horse’ group opposition Denmark in the Nations League, beating them 2-0 in Copenhagen and 4-2 at home. Having such recent wins against the strongest two of their three group opponents bodes well for Belgium’s attacking assets in particular.
Their final group opponents are first-time qualifiers Finland. The Scandinavian minnows booked their place at the summer tournament thanks to a favourable group and generally lack any real quality in depth at both ends of the pitch. In their last five competitive games they have played against fellow EURO 2020 finals teams, Finland lost twice to Italy and Wales and managed a recent draw against Ukraine.
- Most starts: Toby Alderweireld (10), Thibaus Courtois (9), Eden Hazard, Jan Vertonghen (both 8), Thorgan Hazard, Dries Mertens, Youri Tielemans (all 7)
- Most goals: Romelu Lukaku (7), Eden Hazard (5), Kevin De Bruyne (4), Michy Batshuayi, Christian Benteke (both 3)
- Most assists: Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne (both 7), Yannick Carrasco (4), Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens (3)
- Goals scored: 40
- Goals conceded: 3
- Clean sheets: 7
This Belgium side are spearheaded by a Lukaku in the best form of his life. Their top scorer in both qualifying and all-time, the former Manchester United forward is fresh from registering 40 goal contributions in 44 games as Inter Milan won Serie A. Lukaku averages the best part of two goals every three games for Belgium (59 goals in 91 games) and is among the favourites for the Golden Boot with the quality he has around him.
Given Belgium have recently put four goals past both Denmark and Russia, and Finland are weak at the back, Lukaku is incredibly well-placed to shine in Group B. Although he is expensive at €11.0m on the official UEFA EURO 2020 Fantasy game, it is hard to argue against a striker who grabbed seven goals and three assists in six qualifying games playing for the best attacking side. This record makes him a very strong captaincy option for all three group-stage matches.
As long as he recovers from his nose and eye socket fractures sustained in the UCL final in time, De Bruyne will be another key asset for Belgium this summer. The Manchester City midfielder got four goals and seven assists in six qualifying matches, providing two goals and two assists in his last three national team games, including a goal and an assist against fellow Group B side Denmark.
Although there have been questions over his form at Real Madrid, there was nothing inconsistent about Hazard’s form in qualifying. Five goals and seven assists in nine games is a phenomenal output, although he hasn’t featured since qualifying due to injury issues and contracting coronavirus (COVID-19); so it might be worth monitoring his involvement in friendlies against Greece and Croatia.
Hazard should still be trusted to start on the wing for Belgium and is incredibly well-placed to repeat the four goals and an assist he put past Russia in their two qualifying games.
Further back, Jason Denayer (€4.5m) is the cheapest, nailed-on member of this Belgium defence. Although he carries very little attacking threat, scoring just one goal in 23 international appearances, Belgium’s chances for clean sheets are very high and he’s an exceptionally solid budget option for your Fantasy team.
In goal, there are not many better options than Thibaut Courtois (€6.0m). The Real Madrid stopper kept seven clean sheets in nine qualifying games as part of the joint-best defence. Fresh from keeping 17 clean sheets in La Liga for Real, Courtois will be a key part of this Belgian side and is a great option for one of your two goalkeeper spots.
Youri Tielemans (€6.5m) is another key Belgium starter who will feature as part of a midfield pivot this summer. Fresh from his FA Cup-winning screamer, Tielemans joins the international playing the best football of his career.
He has scored all four of his international goals since the start of EURO 2020 qualifying, netting against both Russia and Denmark. For his price, playing in a side with the attacking prowess of Belgium, he may well wind up being a great value choice.
That said, it is a little harder to get too excited about Belgium’s full-backs as Fantasy assets this summer. You could be forgiven for wanting a wing-back from Europe’s masters of the 3-4-3 system but it is hard to invest in this area of the Red Devils’ team with confidence.
With seven starts in qualifying, as well as a further two from a possible three in this year’s initial World Cup preliminaries, Thorgan Hazard (€8.0m) has the left wing-back berth locked up as his own but is, unfortunately for us, listed as a mid-priced midfielder on UEFA’s EURO 2020 Fantasy game.
Meanwhile, there does appear to be something of a battle for the right wing-back position, with Timothy Castagne (€5.5m) and Thomas Meunier (€5.5m) both in the conversation.
While each of them are classified as defenders on UEFA’s EURO 2020 Fantasy game, neither one has emerged as a favourite of Martínez of late. Castagne has enjoyed a breakout season with Leicester in 2020/21 and produced two goals and two assists in five qualifying matches.
And the more defence-minded Meunier was a key figure at the World Cup, scored once in four qualifying starts en route to EURO 2020 while Belgium’s three World Cup qualifiers saw the Dortmund man start twice and Castagne feature only once. Meunier also provided two assists across those appearances.
FanTeam Price Corner
Belgium’s star players are highly priced in both UEFA Euro Fantasy and FanTeam, with De Bruyne ranked as the most expensive midfielder in both games (€10.5m in UEFA and €12.5m in FanTeam).
Most of the midfielders and forwards are priced fairly similarly across both games, with Hazard an €11.0m forward in FanTeam compared to a €10.0m midfielder one of the only notable differences.
Belgium’s defenders are higher priced in FanTeam than the official game, with Denayer €1.5m more expensive and Courtois €1.0m dearer, although Castagne is the same price.
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