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Belgium Heavily Favored to Win Group I in Euro 2020 Qualifying

Belgium soccer team
Belgium's "Golden Generation" are hoping for one last big triumph on the world stage. Photo by Эдгар Брещанов (Wikimedia Commons) [CC License].
  • Belgium faces an easy group in qualifying
  • Russia and Scotland appear destined to battle for second
  • Last chance saloon for some of Belgium’s big names

Belgium’s so-called “Golden Generation” missed out in the summer in what was arguably their best chance ever of making a statement on the world stage.

Two more wins could have seen them lift the World Cup for the first time in their history, but defeat in the semi-final to the eventual winners, France, ended their dreams.

Belgium’s win over England in the third/fourth place playoff was some consolation, but the bronze medal was seen as a partial failure for one of the most talented squads in world football.

Euro 2020 Qualifying Group I Winner Odds

Team Odds to Win Euro 2020 Group I at BetOnline
Belgium -500
Russia +400
Scotland +1600
Cyprus +10000
Kazakhstan +50000
San Marino +50000

*Odds taken on 03/19/19
All of which makes the upcoming 2020 European Championships crucial for a squad that in three years time, at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, will largely be regarded as past its prime.

Now or Never for Belgium

Right now, star players like Eden Hazard (28-years-old), Kevin De Bruyne (27), Dries Mertens (31), Jan Vertonghen (31), and Vincent Kompany (32) will consider themselves at their footballing peak, and so Euro 2020, at least for some of them, will be a now or never moment. This will certainly be the case for Vertonghen and Kompany, who for many years have been the backbone of their defense.

So, while they do have a trickle of talented youngsters coming through, for this particular group this has to be their time and what they can’t afford to do is slip up in qualifying and not make it to the finals in June 2020. And we don’t expect them to.

Belgium’s to Lose

For company in Qualifying Group I, they have Russia, Scotland, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, and San Marino, and with only the Russians having competed in last summer’s World Cup – as hosts, with no qualification needed – and there appears little there to challenge the Belgians for a top-two place. The top two sides will automatically qualify for the finals.

They open their qualifiers this week with a home tie against the Russians on March 21st and if, as expected, they win, they will already have one foot in the top two, with still nine games remaining!

Too Much Quality

Only the away game in Russia on November 16th and the away trip to Scotland on September 9th, look on paper to offer any degree of difficulty and even an unlikely defeat in either would still leave them with a comfortable route to the group’s top two. Put simply, the Belgians have too many quality players to not qualify from this quite weak group.

For their part, the Russians will fancy their chances of grabbing second place, especially after over-achieving in last summer’s World Cup where they surprised everyone, including themselves. After having qualified from their group, via wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt, they shocked the footballing world by beating the highly-rated Spanish on penalties in their round-of-16 game.

Russians Overachieved

In their quarter-final tie against eventual finalists Croatia, Russia took them all the way but, on that occasion, were to lose out on penalties, but having gone into the competition with low expectations, they left it with their heads held high.

While the Russians are notoriously poor travelers, they do have a good track record on home turf.

While the Russians are notoriously poor travelers, they do have a good track record on home turf, but we can see the Scots pushing them close for second place in the group.

Scots Make Hampden a Fortress

Hampden Park in Glasgow is always a really tricky place for visitors, and if they can pick up a good result or two away from home, they could conceivably sneak into the finals at the expense of the Russians.

But, it’s Belgium’s group to lose and while odds of -500 for them to qualify offer only a very modest return, we still see it as a worthwhile bet.

Picks: Belgium (-500) and Scotland (+1600)


Our Euro 2020 Qualifying Coverage:

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Once just a sports fanatic, fan-turned-writer Gary Gowers has been featured on European television and radio networks to discuss several professional football clubs. His work can be found in an assortment of publications like The Metro, MyFootballWriter.com, SBO.net, and BBC Radio Norfolk.