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France vs Belgium, UEFA Euro 2024, Today Match Prediction

Merkur Spiel Arena, Dusseldorf

A Tactical Tussle Awaits France and Belgium

  • The average goals per game in the head to head matches between France and Belgium is 2.57
  • France on average scored 1.33 Goals per game in their last six outings
  • Belgium are averaging 0.66 Goals per game in the 2024 Eurocup

France to Win (1-0)

Tournament: UEFA Euro 2024 | Venue: Merkur Spiel Arena, Dusseldorf

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The two-time Euro Champs, France, are set to square off in the round-of-16 against the Red Devils, Belgium, at the Merkur Spiel-Arena on Monday. Everyone (or "Fans and managers alike") would admit that it's too early for a match of this magnitude to happen in a tournament. Both teams are ranked second and third in the latest FIFA rankings, but their own performances have landed them in this early clash.

Expected to top Group D with a win in the final group game against an already eliminated Poland, the Les Bleus only managed a draw. That, along with the Austria-Dutch clash, meant they finished the group as the second-placed team. Incidentally, it was the first time in Didier Deschamps’ tenure as the French coach that his side failed to top their group in a major tournament.

Likewise, Belgium finished second in the group after they squandered their lead in the final match against Ukraine, which ended in a 0-0 draw. In the end, they finished the group stage of Euro 2024 with just 1 win, 1 draw, and 1 loss in a group that included Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine.

France Preview

France is often regarded as a team that doesn't like to dictate terms in a football match, preferring to sit back and exploit teams when they run out of steam. However, in the group stages of this Euro 2024, they encountered three opponents who were content to sit back and defend. No wonder they struggled. Despite this, it doesn't excuse them for not scoring even a single goal from open play thus far.

Their inability to convert chances was a major problem in the group stages. In the final match against Poland, they had 55 touches in the opponent's box – the second-highest figure in any Euros match since 1980  yet they could only manage a goal via a penalty. Furthermore, Didier Deschamps' tactical approach of using three different formations for three different matches didn't help either. 

They started the tournament with their preferred 4-2-3-1 formation with Mbappe playing a more central role, then shifted to a 4-4-1-1 in Mbappe's absence, and finally played a 4-3-3 formation against Poland with three holding midfielders. Perhaps it's time for the Les Bleus to return to a 4-2-3-1 against Belgium, with Mbappe playing alongside Dembele on the wings and a traditional center forward leading the line.

Even though they may not have produced enough goals, the French have been solid at the back, apart from the occasional blemish from Upamecano against Poland, which resulted in the penalty goal. As far as changes are concerned, expect Antoine Griezmann to be back in the starting 11, while the decision between Thuram and Barcola remains up in the air.

France Probable Starting XI: Maignan (Goalkeeper); Hernandez, Saliba, Upamecano, Kounde (Defenders); Rabiot, Kante, Griezmann (Midfielders); Barcola, Mbappe, Dembele ( Forwards) 

Belgium Preview

For a team that thrives on scoring goals – averaging 2.1 per game with 35 goals in the past two years – Belgium has managed only two goals in three matches this tournament. While Kevin de Bruyne leads the tournament with 11 key passes, their inability to convert their chances and the passive gameplay they've displayed are to blame.  Like in the game against Ukraine, where they quickly shut down the offense and settled for a draw, resulting in boos from their fans after the final whistle. 

Though some might argue a draw was enough to qualify for the quarterfinals, Belgium's overall performance has been underwhelming. Such a timid display could spell trouble for Tedesco's side against the former World Champions on Monday. Despite having a high number of shots, they've had limited results.  Apart from Kevin De Bruyne, their forward line has been inconsistent. With N'Golo Kante patrolling the midfield for France, De Bruyne will face a tough challenge. Therefore, Lukaku and Doku need to find their scoring touch if Belgium is to put pressure on the French defense.

Belgium Probable Starting XI: Casteels (Goalkeeper); Theate, Faes, Castagne, Vertonghen (Defenders); Onana, Tielemans, De Bruyne (Midfielders); Doku, Lukaku, Lukebakio (Forwards)

Both teams have underperformed in the tournament overall. Given the struggles of their attacks and their solid defenses that limit scoring opportunities, one can expect a cagey and tight contest on Monday. However, France still boasts a superior squad with depth and quality. This allows them to withstand pressure and turn around a match if they fall behind.

Les Bleus holds an edge over Belgium in head-to-head battles with 5 wins, 2 draws, and 1 loss. Additionally, they are unbeaten in six straight games across competitions and have conceded only once. The last and only time Belgium defeated France was in 2015 with a 4-3 win. Considering Belgium's inconsistency in attack, many analysts predict a French victory. The only question remains: will it be in regular time or extra time/penalties?

France to Win (1-0)

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Author: Vishnu Reddy