UEFA Euro 2024: Can Belgium get their campaign off on a high against tricky Slovakia?

UEFA Euro 2024: Can Belgium get their campaign off on a high against tricky Slovakia?

Eric Munene 16:00 - 17.06.2024

Belgium are favourites for this group, but will Slovakia maintain an unbeaten run established in the friendlies?

After co-hosting in 2000, Belgium endured a 16-year absence from the European Championship before establishing themselves as regulars in recent editions.

Their current run marks their third consecutive appearance, with their famed 'golden generation' reaching the quarter-finals in the last two tournaments.

However, a disappointing group stage exit at the 2022 World Cup prompted a rejuvenation under manager Domenico Tedesco, who leads the Red Devils in his first major tournament.

Under Tedesco's guidance, Belgium has embraced a more youthful approach and remains undefeated in the 14 matches since his appointment in February 2023, winning 10 and drawing 4.

Their defense has been formidable, with England being the only team to breach their goal in their last six outings, securing a 2-2 draw at Wembley.

Slovakia, making their third consecutive Euros appearance since their debut as an independent nation in 2016, started the 2020 edition with a victory over Poland but failed to advance after subsequent defeats.

This led to managerial changes, with Francesco Calzona taking charge and guiding them through an impressive qualifying campaign marred only by losses to Portugal, while winning seven matches and drawing one.

Heading into Euro 2024, Slovakia's form has been solid, unbeaten in their last three friendly matches with convincing 4-0 victories over San Marino and Wales. They are optimistic about facing Belgium, aiming for their first-ever victory against them since a 2-1 defeat in February 2013.

Players to watch and predictions

A key matchup to watch will be Belgium's prolific striker Romelu Lukaku, who recently added to his impressive international goal tally with a brace against Luxembourg, bringing his total to 85 goals.

Slovakia's goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who has faced Lukaku four times conceding just once, will be pivotal in attempting to contain him.

A noteworthy statistic is that only three of Belgium's last 12 Euros group stage matches have seen both teams score, highlighting their defensive prowess in tournament football.

The best prediction therefore would be the game to end with less than 3 goals, Belgium to win or draw or both teams to score.