European Championship Last 16: France – Belgium

A mouth watering clash in the last 16 as neighbours Belgium and France play each other on Monday at 18.00 CET. Quite a surprise that these 2 sides meet each other beforehand as both teams were expected to go through as number 1 in their respective groups. However, France only drew 1-1 against Poland in the last game of the group stage which meant that Austria ended in 1st place and France in 2nd place in front of the Netherlands. Belgium were the big favourites in Group E with Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine. However, in the first game they were already in trouble as they lost 1-0 to Slovakia in a eventful game which saw 2 Lukaku goals disallowed. They managed to go through after 4 points in the next 2 games to also finish 2nd in their group. 

France Team News

Deschamps was delighted that Mbappe could return to play against Poland in the final group match after missing the 2nd match against the Netherlands. This way, he opened his goal tally of the tournament and prepare himself for the last 16 match. Where before the previous matches there were some injury doubts in the French camp it looks all clear now with no major injury news posted in the last days. It is expected to see Maignan in goal with Hernandez, Saliba, Upamecano and Kounde in front of him forming the defence. In midfield Rabiot and Tchouameni look to accompany legendary Kante to provide a very stable hard working midfield. This midfield then allows the front 3 Griezmann,Mbappe and Dembele to fully focus on attacking. 

Belgium Team News

Lukebakio will probably re-enter the starting line up after his suspension in the 3rd game, meaning that Trossard would move back to the bench again. Lukebakio will assist Lukaku and Doku in the quest to dismantle the strong French defence, that only conceded a Lewandowski penalty so far this tournament. In midfield Tielemand and Onana will provide back up to star man Kevin de Bruyne, who is expected to be the lead in creating chances for Belgium in the clash with their rivals. At the back, Jan Vertonghen will provide a wealth of experience to help Castagne, Faes and Theatre keeping Mbappe at bay. With Courtois absent, Casteels is the first goalkeeper for Belgium again, a role he has filled in adequately so far. 

France Form

France are yet to reach full steam this tournament as they only managed to score 2 goals in the group stage. And these goals were a Wober own goal and a Mbappe penalty. The French managed 49 shots from open play with an xG of 5.9 but still not managed to score from those attempts. France have drawn 5 of their last 6 games at the Euro´s and will hope that they can improve their form quickly as in order to reach the final would likely have to get past Portugal and Spain or Germany. 

Belgium Form

Luckily for France, Belgium neither are in great form coming into the game. Slovakia upset the Belgians in the first game managing a 1-0 victory to send the Belgium camp into panic. A stronger display against Romania with a 2-0 victory put things back in order in group E before the final gameday. The final game against Ukraine was disappointing again as it was difficult for the team to decide between pushing for group victory or sitting back to decrease risk of knock out. In the end, the 0-0 draw was enough for Belgium to go through but they players received loads of criticism for the negative attitude against a lower rated team. 

What do the stats say?

  • Belgium has only won one of the last 5 games against France
  • Last 2 games were won by France with both the Nations League Semi Final and World Cup Semi Final in 2018 won by the French. 
  • The last time Belgium beat France in a competitive game was in 1981 in a world cup qualification game. 

Our verdict

Based on historic results and the projected team strengths France look strong favourites for this game. The bookmakers odds also reflect this with the Odds of France to win are around 1.9 while those for Belgium are around 4.5. France look a bad match for the Belgian side that flourishes against opponents that give away space to them to be dangerous on the counter attack. France have a similar playing style and are very focused and rigid defensively. However, you never know what might happen and if Kevin de Bruyne has top form he could prove to be the difference. 

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