Belgium and Portugal locked horns in one of the plum ties of the last 16 at Euro 2020. Both nations were fancied at the start to go on and win the tournament, but it was the Red Devils who got the better of A Seleção by a solitary goal in Seville.
Belgium Beat Portugal at Euro 2020
Solidity for Belgium to Edge Portugal – A Tactical Analysis
Belgium came into this game on the back of three straight wins in their group. The Red Devils easily overcame Russia and Finland but ground out a narrow victory over Denmark. Meanwhile, Roberto Martinez’s side set up as a fluid 3-4-2-1 formation. It is a system that the Belgium manager trusts with his team since the start of the European Championship qualifying campaign. His starting lineup included Eden Hazard, key playmaker Kevin de Bruyne and their top scorer Romelu Lukaku.
On the other hand, current holders Portugal arrived at this stage of the tournament through successfully negotiating ‘the Group of Death.’ The nation enjoyed a late victory over Hungary, a huge quality draw against France and a heavy defeat to Germany. The country are led by the vastly experienced Fernando Santos. His nation played in their familiar 4-3-3 formation.
The Portugal coach, with over 1000 matches in professional football, was looking for his big performers of top goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Rui Patricio as they aimed to continue their personal promising tournament. Ronaldo has been in terrific form with five goals and equalling the international football record with Iran’s Ali Daei on 109 strikes for their respective countries.
Red Devils Prevail With Narrow Win
One strike of brilliance by Thorgan Hazard was enough to settle scores in Sevilla. The Borussia Dortmund attacker’s swerving shot arrowed into the goal to give his nation the victory and progress to the quarter-finals.
That piece of skill was one of the few moments of quality on the night. It was an error-strewn contest from start to finish and was a tense and physical affair with some rough challenges flying in. One of which was enough to see Kevin de Bruyne’s night end early and Belgium will be sweating on his fitness.
The Belgians had better control of the game in key moments. They were solid at the back and held better quality possession of the ball than their rival. Although Portugal dominated possession and created many more chances, they rarely threatened the Belgium backline to the extent a goal was coming. Belgium held firm to snuff out the Portuguese attack.
In the battle of the strikers, Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo were both nullified. Yet it was Lukaku who had the better night with holding the ball up well and better link-up play. Ronaldo had two chances at free-kicks which came to nothing and was absent for most parts of the contest.
Belgium got the better of Portugal yet it was a match that promised fireworks but ended up a dull affair. That was until the last ten minutes when Portugal attacked with urgency. Above all, it was Belgium’s night as the reigning champions of the competition were sent packing home. Belgium kept their composure and overall their cool in the hothouse of Seville.
The Key Men on the Night for Belgium and Portugal at Euro 2020
Thorgan Hazard’s rasping strike gave his nation the win and was the star of the match for his overall play. He marginally outperformed his brother Eden, who showed some good trickery and made some clever vertical runs until he was forced off late in the game with a muscular injury.
As for Portugal, the 38-year-old Pepe put in a very accomplished performance at the back. His tackling ability being the last man to successfully remove the ball time and time again kept Belgium at bay. His leadership was evident once again. However, Portugal’s best performer was Renato Sanches, who performed very well with his midfield duties of circulating the ball. He has bounced back well from a lack of form and is a starter for his nation nowadays.