Euro 2020: Lukaku vs Ronaldo as Belgium Face Portugal in Spain for Quarter-final Spot

Lukaku vs Ronaldo

The world’s number-one ranked side Belgium take on holders Portugal in a standout Euro 2020 tie in Spain for a place in the quarter-finals.

All eyes will be on Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku and Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who have scored eight goals between them at Euro 2020.

Ronaldo, who is the tournament’s leading scorer on five goals, is one away from setting a new men’s record for most national team goals.

The last-16 tie takes place in Seville.

Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans could return for the match, which will include extra-time and penalties if it is level after 90 and 120 minutes respectively. Tielemans started the first two group wins but did not play against Finland. 

Wolves defender Nelson Semedo picked up a knock in Portugal’s last outing against France but has since returned to training.

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes is hoping to return to the starting line-up after being dropped to the bench for the last game.

Despite being top of Fifa’s world rankings, Belgium have yet to win a major tournament.

Along with Italy and the Netherlands, Roberto Martinez’s team were one of three sides to finish the group stage with a maximum nine points.

While Italy and the Netherlands played their three games at ‘home’ in Rome and Amsterdam respectively, Belgium overcame Russia in St Petersburg, came from behind to beat Denmark in Copenhagen before returning to St Petersburg to defeat Finland.

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Euro 2016 winners Portugal made it through to the last 16 as one of the best four third-placed teams.

They lost to Germany 4-2 in Munich after winning 3-0 in Hungary before a dramatic 2-2 draw with world champions France in Budapest.

Since the end of the 2018 World Cup, Lukaku has scored 23 goals in 21 appearances in all competitions for Belgium, while also providing four assists.

The Inter Milan forward netted three goals in the group stage, including two in one match against Russia.

Ronaldo, 36, is now the top-scoring European player at major tournaments (World Cup and European Championship), with his double against France in the last game moving him beyond Miroslav Klose (19) to 21 goals.

Indeed, that was Ronaldo’s second double of Euro 2020 already – no player has registered three in a single tournament at the European Championship.

“At his age, he continues to shine and I’m going to try and get as close to his achievements as possible,” Lukaku, 28, said of his Portuguese rival.

Both sides have got plenty of match-winners, capable of a moment of genius. I’d argue Belgium have the edge going forward but their defence has got mistakes in them.

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It is very difficult to call, and I think this will be settled by a penalty shoot-out.

Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis, Nielsen’s Gracenote: Belgium are the top-ranked club in Europe according to Gracenote’s World Ranking, ahead of France, Italy and Portugal.

Progress to the last 16 has increased Belgium’s chance of winning the tournament from 14.1% to 15% but they are now second favourites due to being in the tougher half of the draw.

Portugal have been unlucky with the draw in this tournament, firstly ending up in Group F with France and Germany, and now having to face Belgium in the last 16.

Portugal’s Gracenote World Football Ranking of fourth in Europe implies that they are capable of a semi-final place but they first have to knock out a team who are theoretically better than them.

This is the first meeting between Belgium and Portugal at a major tournament.

Portugal are unbeaten in their past five matches against Belgium across all competitions (W3 D2) since a 3-0 defeat in World Cup qualifying in September 1989.

Belgium have only failed to score in two of their last 58 games under Roberto Martinez.

Despite playing just 134 minutes so far, Kevin de Bruyne has been involved in three of Belgium’s seven goals at Euro 2020, netting once and providing two assists.

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Belgium’s victory over Finland last time out marked their ninth win at a World Cup and European Championship combined under Roberto Martinez, with the Spaniard now holding the outright managerial record for major tournament wins with the Red Devils.

Portugal have conceded six goals in three games at Euro 2020 so far, already one more than they did at Euro 2016 when they went on to lift the trophy.

Portugal have qualified for the knockout stages of the European Championship in third place for the second tournament in a row, also doing so in 2016 before going on to win it.

Portugal’s return of four points from three group games is the poorest return for a defending champion at a European Championship since Greece in 2008.

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