5 reasons why Portugal will struggle against Belgium | Euro 2020

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo

The Euro 2020 knockout stage is underway and Portugal will take on Belgium in one of the most high-profile matches in the Round of 16. Belgium have had a largely hassle-free journey through the group stage.

The only time they've looked vulnerable so far was early on in the game against Denmark. But a brilliant second-half performance helped them secure all three points after going behind as early as the second minute of the match.

Roberto Martinez's side will face their toughest test yet against Portugal. Drawn in Euro 2020 Group F alongside France and Germany, Fernando Santos' men have done a decent job so far. But they will need to step it up now as it's do-or-die from here on.

Portugal started their Euro 2020 campaign with a 3-0 win over Hungary. The scoreline was flattering to Cristiano Ronaldo and co. and a bit unfair to Hungary who were able to hold the reigning champions to 0-0 until the 84th minute.

Portugal were outplayed by Germany in their second game and lost 4-2. But they managed to hold their own against reigning world champions France in their last group game and settled for a 2-2 draw. Portugal now have their work cut out for them as they square off against one of the strongest sides at Euro 2020.

Without further ado, let's take a look at five reasons why Portugal will struggle against Belgium.

#5 Portugal's defence has been anything but solid at Euro 2020

Portugal v Germany - UEFA Euro 2020: Group F
Portugal v Germany - UEFA Euro 2020: Group F

Portugal were able to keep a cleansheet in their Euro 2020 opening fixture against Hungary. They had a fair amount of good fortune working in their favour with Hungary's 80th minute goal getting chalked off for offside.

The Portuguese defence did not hold up well against Germany. After taking the lead, Portugal fell 2-1 behind as both Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro scored own goals. They eventually lost the game 4-2.

Portugal conceded two goals against France and have not done a great job against two of the best attacking units at Euro 2020.

Belgium are not going to be very different. Nelson Semedo hasn't looked steady in defence and the centre-back pairing of Ruben Dias and Pepe are yet to settle down. They will need to be on high-alert throughout the length of the game today.

#4 Portugal's attackers have lacked sharpness

Portugal v Germany - UEFA Euro 2020: Group F
Portugal v Germany - UEFA Euro 2020: Group F

Fernando Santos is expected to persist with a front three of Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo and Diogo Jota. Bernardo Silva had rather forgettable outings against Hungary and Germany. However, he was able to offer a lot more going forward in the game against France.

Jota was one of Portugal's better players against Germany and he got a goal to show for it as well. However, he dropped a dud against France and was largely ineffective. There hasn't been much cohesiveness about the trio's linkup play in the final third.

Three of Portugal's seven goals so far have also come from the spot. In big matches like this, it's the margins that count and Portugal's attackers will need to improve if they're to progress to the quarter-finals.

#3 Belgium's best players have regained fitness

Finland v Belgium - UEFA Euro 2020: Group B
Finland v Belgium - UEFA Euro 2020: Group B

Roberto Martinez's side went into Euro 2020 with some of their key players recovering from recent injury issues. They started their tournament opener against Russia with Youri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker in central midfield.

Although Russia couldn't offer anything of note against Belgium, the Red Devils' weaknesses were exposed by Denmark. However, the introduction of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne in the second half helped shift the tide in Belgium's favour.

Axel Witsel, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne got their first starts of the tournament in Belgium's final group game against Finland. Roberto Martinez ought to be happy about the fact that his best players have all got minutes under their belts now.

Witsel and Kevin De Bruyne were Belgium's best players on the pitch against Finland and Martinez will be hoping for more of the same against Portugal.

#2 Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku have been in great form

Finland v Belgium - UEFA Euro 2020: Group B
Finland v Belgium - UEFA Euro 2020: Group B

De Bruyne might have only played a match and a half at Euro 2020 but he has already become one of the stars of the tournament. Belgium went into half-time against Denmark a goal down and they were struggling to hold their ground.

The Manchester City man's introduction changed the game and De Bruyne assisted Belgium's opener after showcasing some great presence of mind inside the box. He would then score Belgium's winner with an excellent left-footed strike from outside the box.

Romelu Lukaku was the main driving force behind both goals. He looked great against Finland as well. The Inter Milan striker shares a great understanding with De Bruyne and they will be the duo to look out for in the match against Portugal.

#1 Portugal's overreliance on Cristiano Ronaldo for goals

Portugal v France - UEFA Euro 2020: Group F
Portugal v France - UEFA Euro 2020: Group F

Portugal have scored seven goals so far at Euro 2020. Five of them have been scored by Cristiano Ronaldo. Of those five, only two have come from open play. Ronaldo has looked sharp but Portugal will be well-advised not to overrely on him for goals.

Bruno Fernandes' form is a cause for concern as far as Portugal is concerned. The Manchester United midfielder, who scored 28 goals and provided 17 assists in 58 matches across all competitions this past season, has been lackluster at Euro 2020 so far. None of the other potential goalscorers for Portugal have been able to come through either.

It's time for the players to share the load as Belgium are as tough an opponent as any and they will need a strong team performance to get the better of the Red Devils.

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Edited by Shambhu Ajith
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