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Euro 2024: Can Improving Slovaks Dent New Chapter in Belgium Football?

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Belgium vs Slovakia

For a nation which has been ranked number one in the world for a time and is currently number three, Belgium have fared pretty poorly ever since they claimed third place at the 2018 World Cup.

Yet Euro 2024 marks a new chapter for international football’s Red Devils as the successor to Roberto Martinez takes them to a major tournament for the first time.

And while the era of their supposed ‘Golden Generation’ is over, Domenico Tedesco has inherited a squad stacked with talent and has even opted to bring 25 players to Germany, despite UEFA permitting 26, with squad harmony suggested as the decisive reason.

Can they now deliver Euro 2024 highlights which befits their status as the third best team in the world?


Talking Points

Eden Hazard may have retired but there is still playmaker supreme Kevin De Bruyne, who has assumed the captaincy, and striker Romelu Lukaku whose 14 goals made him the most dangerous marksman in qualifying and a favourite for the Golden Boot this summer.

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois would perhaps have completed the spine but has not been selected.

His recent return to action and display in the Champions League Final shows he still has it but, after publicly criticising the manager for failing to hand him the captaincy last year when De Bruyne was injured – Courtois claimed a “breach of trust” – perhaps it’s no surprise he’s not been included after a long spell on the sidelines.

Nevertheless, his absence means the tournament is without one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

While Courtois is in the international wilderness, some of his older counterparts remain.

Indeed, there’s a generous blend of youth and experience.

Axel Witsel, Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Meunier and Yannick Carrasco are veterans at this level, while Manchester City’s Jeremy Doku offers zip alongside youngsters Zeno Debast, Charles De Ketelaere, Johan Bakayoko, Arthur Vermeeren and Andre Onana.

PSV winger Bakayoko is electric when in full flight. Playing on the right flank, his athleticism and direct dribbling ability is a lethal combination in open spaces, while De Ketelaere is an elegant attacking midfielder who played one of the two inside forwards on the way to winning the Europa League with Atalanta last month.

On the back of a fine season for Arsenal, there is also Leandro Trossard, as Tedesco overhauls the squad.

Milan Skriniar has been a key player for Slovakia in UEFA Euro 2024
Slovakia’s defender Milan Skriniar gestures during the EURO 2020 Group E match against Sweden

Only 10 of the 26 players have survived from Euro 2020 (only three years ago remember) with Tedesco phasing out experienced names like Dries Mertens, Michy Batshuayi, Christian Benteke, Dennis Praet and Leander Dendoncker— proof that Tedesco’s youth should not be mistaken for sentiment.

In truth, the defence is clearly weaker with Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen now retired and another veteran, Toby Alderweireld, overlooked.

Slovakia suffered greatly at the last European Championships, losing two of their group games, including a 5-0 rout by Spain.

To their credit, the team was very solid in qualifying, finishing second to Portugal in the group, and pre-tournament friendlies suggest they are well prepared to fight hard.

The midfield lacks creativity but the attack is promising with Robert Bozenik and Lukas Haraslin, while they have two fine goalkeepers in Martin Dubravka and Marek Rodak followed by the pillars of their defence in Milan Skriniar and David Hancko.

That Belgium come into this as world No 3 – the only time they have been outside the top five since July 2014 was a five-month spell between April and August 2017 – is statistically impressive but of course, rankings only tell part of the story.

On saying that, they should be too strong in the opener as a new chapter in Belgium football begins.



This will be just the fourth meeting between the nations and the first competitively.

The first two friendlies ended 1-1.

In April 2002, Bart Goor opened the scoring for the hosts in Brussels before Vladimir Janocko equalised.

Four years later in Trnava, Filip Hološko and Karel Geraerts traded second half goals.

Belgium then edged their most recent meeting, another friendly, in Bruges in February 2013.

When Richard Lasik equalised two minutes from time to cancel out a Hazard penalty, it looked like a third successive 1-1 draw was on the cards.

That was until Dries Mertens scored a 90th minute winner.


Betting Tip

So, it if does have another 1-1 written all over it, prepare for a tidy sum of @ 8.00 with Correct Score, or eve @ 7.40 for a 2-1 Belgium win.

A third draw in four is available @ 4.13 with the SBOTOP Euro 2024 betting odds with level pegging throughout on offer @ 7.00 with Half Time Full Time Draw Draw.

Slovakia faring well give you options which include First Half 1X2 @ 5.10, First Half Asian Handicap + 0.25 @ 2.28, 1X2 @ 5.90 and Asian Handicap +1.00 @ 2.08.

By contrast, Belgium are priced First Half 1X2 @ 2.06, First Half Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 2.06, 1X2 @ 1.44 and Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 2.36.

Amongst goal bets are Over 3.00 @ 2.23, Total Goal 0-1 @ 3.83, 2-3 @ 1.96 and 4-6 @ 2.94.

I think Belgium will win this opener and will lead at the break which is why I’m plumping for a ** tip of Belgium First Half Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 2.05.



⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT))


Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.




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