Belgium vs Romania. Prediction and Preview. Probable Lineups, Team News, Stats, and more

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Belgium will face Romania in the UEFA EURO 2024 second-round match of Group E at the Cologne Stadium. The fixture will take place on Sunday, June 23, beginning at 00:30 IST.

Parimatch News will tell you everything you need to know ahead of the upcoming match.

Belgium News & Current Form: 

Belgium had a disappointing performance at the last FIFA World Cup, with their golden generation failing to progress past the group stage, finishing behind Croatia and Morocco. This led to a significant overhaul in the national team, with Domenico Tedesco being appointed as the head coach. Under the guidance of specialists, the Red and Blacks achieved excellent results in the qualifiers, finishing first in Group F without a single loss.

In the eight qualifying matches, the Devils secured six victories and two draws, scoring 22 goals and conceding only four. They also performed well in their friendly matches before Euro 2024, defeating Montenegro and Luxembourg with scores of 2:0 and 3:0, respectively.

Romelu Lukaku scored two goals in the match against Slovakia, but they were subsequently disallowed by the referee

Before the tournament, Belgium was rightly considered the favourites in Group E. However, an unexpected loss to the relatively modest Slovakian team immediately put the Red Devils in a difficult position (0:1).

The lineup chosen by Tedesco for the match against Slovakia was predictable and raised no questions among those following the news, especially considering the absence of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who was not included in the final Euro 2024 squad due to his conflict with the head coach and another team leader, Kevin De Bruyne. VfL Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels took the spot in the gate, marking the first time since the 2002 World Cup held in Japan and Korea that Belgium played a major tournament match without Courtois, who had featured in each of the previous 25 matches.

The newly appointed first-choice goalkeeper could hardly be blamed for the goal conceded in the seventh minute. Jérémy Doku, who became the best player of the first Euro round in successful dribbles (6) and touches in the opponent’s penalty area (12), was the one who made a crucial mistake at the start of the game. The Manchester City winger, for some reason, rolled the ball into his penalty area under pressure from the Slovakian attackers. Casteels saved the initial shot of Juraj Kucka, but he couldn’t stop Ivan Schranz and his follow-up strike.

Tedesco naturally did not abandon the style based on the quick movement of the ball into the attacking zone. In principle, the plan of the Red Devils’ head coach worked, but the result was puzzling, to put it mildly. De Bruyne delivered the ball to the flanks promptly, Jérémy Doku and Leandro Trossard tipped the opponents and then found Romelu Lukaku in the penalty area. But Romelu’s goals didn’t go so well. He sent the ball into the net twice, but the referee cancelled the goals after a video review – the first goal was ruled out for offside, and the second for a handball by his teammate Johan Bakayoko. As a reminder, the player of AS Roma scored 14 goals in the qualifiers, averaging a goal every 39 minutes.

“I knew we would lose sooner or later. Unfortunately, it happened today. There’s little I can say to the team to improve. We created many chances, and if we had scored, the game would have been easier,”

said Domenico Tedesco after the match.

It’s worth noting that Belgium’s loss to Slovakia ended their 15-match unbeaten run across all competitions, during which they recorded five draws and ten wins. Throughout this period, the Devils only twice failed to score.

When a team fails to score and loses, questions inevitably arise about its attackers. Notably, the Red and Blacks have Lois Openda, one of the top scorers in the Bundesliga with 24 goals last season, waiting on the bench. Perhaps it’s time to give the younger generation a chance. Many also expect to see Maxim De Cuyper and Axel Witsel in the starting lineup for the second match. Tedesco is known for making radical personnel decisions, so there is a possibility.

Moreover, Belgium’s star player Kevin De Bruyne has yet to make an impact in the tournament. He scored six goals in 20 matches for Manchester City this season (in Premier League and UEFA Champions League). Another issue for the squad is that defender Thomas Meunier will not be available for the upcoming match.

Romania News & Current Form: 

The Romanian national team returns to the European Championship. After the golden generation of the 90s led by Gheorghe Hagi retired, the national team has now qualified for the tournament for the third time. However, their best performance remains the campaign of Euro 2000, when Romania reached the quarter-finals, finishing second in a group with Portugal, England, and Germany.

In the Euro 2024 qualifiers, the Tricolours confidently won their group, which also included Switzerland and Israel. In ten qualification matches, they did not suffer a single defeat, drawing four times and winning six, which secured their place in the tournament table. However, this year the team under the mentorship of Edward Iordanescu has been disappointing – their pre-tournament friendly matches were far from impressive. They drew with Northern Ireland (1:1), Bulgaria (0:0), and Liechtenstein (0:0), and even lost to Colombia (2:3).

Thanks to Florian Nata, the Romanian team has not conceded in the 3 consecutive meetings

In the first round of Euro 2024, Romania thrashed Ukraine with a score of 3:0. This victory ended the Blakan team’s four-match winless streak, which included one loss and three draws. Iordanescu’s side played in their usual formation, pressing aggressively, forcing errors, and defending tightly. The goals were not so much a result of well-executed positional attacks but rather due to mistakes by the Yellow and Blues. The Tricolours played solidly in defence, which is their strong suit. They closed off the flanks, leaving the opponent without alternatives, and forced them to play through the centre, where Tottenham Hotspur FC defender Radu Dragusin dominated and easily dealt with any threats.

The Romanian side was fortunate to have 12 players on their side in this match, one of whom was cunningly embedded in the opponent’s defensive line, right at the final barrier. Andriy Lunin, usually playing for Real Madrid CF, had an unfortunate day, essentially playing for the opponent’s team.

Ukraine had a noticeable advantage (albeit without creating significant chances in the penalty area of Florin Nita), but the Romanians punished their opponents for the first mistake when playing from their penalty area. Lunin made a precise pass to the foot of Dennis Man, who briefly passed the ball to Nicolae Stanciu. The latter currently plays for Damac FC, becoming the first player from the Saudi Arabian league to score at the Euros.

At the start of the second half, Ukraine again pressed their opponents into their penalty area, but in the 53rd minute, Romania launched a lightning-fast counterattack finished by Empoli FC central midfielder Razvan Marin with a long-range strike. The ball was at a height that should have been manageable for the goalkeeper, but Lunin let it slip through, effectively sealing the match’s outcome.

Denis Dragus completed the rout of the star-studded Ukrainian team, filled with players from top European leagues, by sending the ball into an empty net after a precise cross from the ubiquitous Dennis Man, who spent the last season in Italian Lega B with Parma Calcio. He was undoubtedly the best player of the match, not only did he press excellently but also made a crucial contribution to the result along with Lunin. Notably, Man is the first Romanian player to provide two assists in a match at a major international tournament since Gheorghe Hagi’s performance against Colombia at the 1994 World Cup in the USA.

To secure points in the match against Belgium and virtually ensure their place in the Round of 16, Romania must remain focused on defending their goal for the full 90 minutes. In attack, the forwards must capitalise on defensive errors from the opponent, just as they did against Ukraine. Such errors are likely, despite the overall high level of the Belgian team, as their central defence is a weak point. Wout Faes of  Leicester City FC, with his distinctive mane, stood out in the first round not only for his appearance but also for his uncertain play, which nearly caused even more problems for the Belgian team.

Belgium form guide: W-D-D-W-W-L

Romania form guide: W-D-L-D-D-W

Belgium vs Romania Head-To-Head Record:

  • November 11, 2011: Belgium 2 – 1 Romania (International Friendlies);
  • November 14, 2012: Romania 2 – 1 Belgium (International Friendlies).

Belgium vs Romania Predicted XI:

Belgium’s possible starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Casteels; Castagne, Debast, Faes, Theate; Tielemans, Onana; Doku, De Bruyne, Trossard; Lukaku.

Romania’s possible starting lineup (4-1-4-1): Nita; Ratiu, Dragusin, Burca, Bancu; R. Marin, M. Marin, Stanciu; Man, Dragus, Mihaila.

Statistical preview of the match Belgium vs Romania:

  • The Belgian national team holds 3rd place in the FIFA ranking of national squads, while the Romanian collective is ranked 47th.
  • Belgium’s First XI average age is 27.6 years, and Romania’s First XI average age is 28.2 years.
  • Szymon Marciniak has been appointed as the centre referee. The match official has already served six games this season, showing an average of 5 yellow cards and also whistles 25.5 fouls per game. 
  • In four matches played at the 2022 World Cup and Euro 2024, the Belgian national team struck 51 times, creating 6.7 xG and 12 clear goal-scoring chances. However, the Belgians scored just one goal in those games (Michy Batshuayi against Canada in the first round of the Qatar Mundial). 
  • In the match against Ukraine, the Romanians secured only their second-ever victory at the European Championships, having played 17 matches in the final tournaments. The previous victory was over the English back in 2000. 
  • The Belgians have only two wins in their last five matches. 
  • The Romanian team has kept their gates intact in three consecutive matches. In addition, Edward Iordanescu’s men have conceded only 5 goals in ten qualifying matches.
  • In the last 5 games, Romania scored an average of 1.20 goals per game and conceded an average of 0.80 goals per game.
  • In the last 5 games, Belgium conceded an average of 0.60 goals per game and scored an average of 1.40 goals per game.

What has been said before the match:

Youri Tielemans, player for the Belgian national team, reflects on the team’s recent performance and upcoming challenges, strategies, and personal readiness following their surprising loss to Slovakia:

“We have to keep shooting and hope that the ball will go in the next time. We have to remain as calm as possible in front of the goal. There has been no extra training, we just have to make the right decisions in Romania’s box.”

“They will play very compactly and try to take advantage of our mistakes. We have to be vigilant about that. We know what we have to do. There was a lot of frustration after the Slovakia game, but that’s football. We now have to show character.”

“I am ready to play 90 minutes. It was the coach’s choice not to field me from the start against Slovakia. I had a groin injury that came back when I was playing at Aston Villa FC, but now I am 100 per cent fit. I don’t assume that I will be a starter. I am ready to play, just like everyone else.”

Edward Iordanescu, gaffer of the Romanian national team, shares his thoughts and aspirations ahead of a crucial match that could secure Romania’s place in the knockout stage for the first time in 24 years:

“It would mean history to make it to us. It would be a fantastic example of what football and sport means in Romania. After the first game, the whole country was behind our team. It really helped our people. I can feel happiness and hope for all Romanians. That motivates us even more.”

“Obviously the opponent is amazing. But we are going into the game trying to win it. Why not get the points that would mean qualification? We have to keep the context in mind. They are number three in the world, with great players, and they really need to get a result.”

“That is a really difficult challenge for us. We are waiting for it. This is the Euros, the best players and coaches. These are incredible experiences. We have to elevate to another level. We have to be very exact and very efficient.”

“Qualification is the most important thing for us. If a point would be enough, then we would take it. Of course, we had euphoria on the pitch after the Ukraine game. That needed to be enjoyed, and then we relaxed and started preparing for Sunday’s game. It is a new challenge.”

Belgium vs Romania Prediction:

The Red Devils boast a good offensive system that is producing plenty of chances, as evidenced by the xG of the last match – 1.86. Poor finishing of those chances and a certain degree of poor luck is also the reason for the underperformance. Only Romelu Lukaku had as many as seven good opportunities to score against Slovakia in the opening round. Suppose the Belgians can pull themselves together and play to their abilities, as they did in the qualifying cycle, where only Portugal, France and Spain have scored more than them. In that case, the Romanian defence will have a hard time. The team is ranked third in the FIFA team rankings for a reason, and for the team that sits 44 lines lower, it is hardly a good idea to underestimate their strength.

The attacking trio of Doku-Lukaku-Trossard (even if two of them are replaced by Yohan Bakayoko and Loi Openda, who came into the game well in the second half against the Slovaks), supported from deep by the brilliant Kevin De Bruyne with his vision and ball-dispatching, should simply sweep away the Romanian defence, where Tottenham’s reserve centre-back Radu Dragusin is their only strong link. The tactical flexibility and attacking play style of Belgium will be a huge factor. Having a set of world-class performers, the coaching staff actively pursues every opportunity to create chances, including quick vertical transitions into attack, through passes, positional attacks, crosses from the wings and set-pieces. This variety makes the Belgian attack difficult to predict and challenging for opposing defences. The difference in the overall level of the teams’ players is huge, and it will not be possible to contain such an attack based on Romanian’s strong character alone. The Tricolours, who have already jumped above their heads, will have to be very lucky to achieve victory here. 

Although Romania is a solid team, they often have difficulties in matches against top opponents. Their defence does not always cope with the pressure and intense attacks of their rivals. In matches against well-organised strong teams that tend to press, the Romanian defensive system shows several vulnerabilities that the Belgian attackers can exploit. In addition, the victory over Ukraine was the first for Edward Iordănescu’s team in the last 5 matches in 2024 (1 defeat and 3 draws). 

However, the Romanian national team is quite capable of getting a goal. The main reason for the defeat of Ukraine in the first round was the slackness of the opponent’s defensive group led by the goalkeeper, but the given opportunities still had to be realised, and the Romanians took their chances to the full – 3 goals from xG 1.32. The Belgian defence is weakened and does not look like an impregnable fortress. Team leader Thibaut Courtois won’t be able to help the team, while the crucial position of centre-back is filled by Leicester City’s error-prone Wout Faes. The Yellows will find at least a couple of chances and may attempt to get away without a goal, but Belgium will be more charged and motivated after a frustrating start to the tournament and will be able to take the all-important 3 points. 

Parimatch News staff prediction:

We say: Belgium will win with a handicap of (-1.5) – Yes.

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