Group I of qualifying for next years European Championships has been one of the simplest when it has come to qualification. Russia and Belgium have run away with the group and the pair meet in Saint Petersburg on Saturday evening.
Russia (Odds of 11/4 for victory)
The home side has enjoyed a very impressive qualifying campaign. They currently site second-place in the group, three points behind leaders Belgium. The group leaders are the only team in Russia’s eight games that have avoided defeat against Stanislav Cherchesov’s team.
The Red Devils defeated the home side in the opening game of the group. Since the defeat Russia have won all seven of their qualifiers. They have also conceded just once in the seven straight wins, so have been formidable in defence of late in qualifiers. They have not been too bad at the other end of the pitch either, scoring at least two goals in three of their last four qualifiers.
Russia really have been strong on home soil in qualifiers of late, winning their last six games at home, while not conceding a goal. Those clean sheets have been a big factor in six of their last eight qualifiers on home soil producing under 2.5 goals.
In giant striker Artem Dzyuba, the home side has the second top scorer in qualifying with nine goals. He has also produced five assists for his national team.
Belgium (Odds of 19/20 for victory)
Roberto Martinez’s team have done what they were expected to do by winning all eight of their games in Group I so far. The visitors have been superb at both ends of the field in qualifying, scoring at least two goals in all eight wins, while keeping clean sheets in their last seven qualifiers. Russia are the only team so far to score against Belgium in Euro 2020 qualifying.
The Red Devils good form has not just started in this qualifying campaign, as they have now won 14 of their last 15 qualifiers, suffering just one defeat, a 1-0 defeat in Wales in 2015. Since the defeat, Belgium have recorded 12 straight victories.
Unsurprisingly considering their qualifying record in general, Belgium’s recent away results have been good. The Red Devils have now recorded six wins on their travels in qualifying, keeping clean sheets in their last four wins, while also scoring at least two goals in the four victories.
Belgium’s star striker Romelu Lukaku has been in good scoring form for club side Inter. The former Manchester United star also scored six times in the current qualifying campaign. The Russian defence will be a tough barrier to overcome.
Russia have been the only team near Belgium in this group and undoubtedly deserve their place at Euro 2020. Their recent record in qualifying and on home soil means that game is unlikely to be an easy one for Belgium.
However, we are backing Belgium to record a victory at odds of 19/20. However, it could be a tight game. Despite Russia’s defensive record, we are also backing the over 2.5 scored at odds of 4/5, as both teams have very rarely come up blank when it comes to scoring games in qualifying.
Verdict: Back the away win at odds of 19/20 and/or the over 2.5 goals scored at odds of 4/5. (All odds are taken from Bet365).
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Will Belgium continue their hundred per cent record in Group I against Russia?