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[monks data]
Belgium national football team
European Championship | Group Stage
Jun 22, 2024 at 8pm UK
RheinEnergieStadion
Romania national football team

Belgium
2 - 0
Romania

Tielemans (2'), De Bruyne (80')
Lukebakio (35')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Bancu (59'), Marin (65')

Preview: Belgium vs. Romania - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's European Championship clash between Belgium and Romania, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

HALF-TIME UPDATE: BELGIUM 1-0 ROMANIA

 Belgium's Youri Tielemans celebrates scoring their first goal with Dodi Lukebakio and Amadou Onana on June 22, 2024© Reuters

Both sets of fans have certainly brought the party to Cologne, but only Belgium's supporters have had anything to celebrate in the first half as they lead Romania 1-0.

The third-fastest goal in European Championship history – courtesy of Youri Tielemans's fizzed effort following a well-put-together move – saw Domenico Tedesco's men take the lead after just 73 seconds, and they went on to dominate the entire half.

Romelu Lukaku and Jeremy Doku have been a constant thorn in Romania's side throughout the opening 45 minutes but, despite a series of chances, they have been unable to improve upon their lead.

While Romania have had their backs to the wall for nearly the entirety of the half, on the rare occasion they have ventured forward they have looked dangerous, coming closest when Radu Dragusin's headed effort was well-tipped over by Koen Casteels.

Edward Iordanescu will be looking for an improved performance in the second half, but Belgium's overwhelming control so far suggests they should take the three points in this one.

HALF-TIME PREDICTION: BELGIUM 3-0 ROMANIA


A Belgium side reeling from a Euro 2024 giant killing clash with a Romania side on cloud nine from an unexpected emphatic beating in their second Group E affair on Saturday evening.

Domenico Tedesco's men were stunned 1-0 by Slovakia in their opening affair, while the Tricolours put three unanswered goals past Ukraine and can now seal a shock last-16 qualification in Cologne.


Match preview

Belgium manager Domenico Tedesco pictured in June 2024 [IMAGO]© Imago

What appeared to be a foregone conclusion from the first whistle turned into another major tournament humiliation for Belgium, who were ruing their lack of killer touch and VAR decisions going against them in no doubt the biggest shock of the opening Euro 2024 matchday.

The net bulged with just seven minutes on the clock as Ivan Schranz kept himself onside to fire home from a rebound, before the luckless Romelu Lukaku had not one, but two strikes disallowed, one for offside and another for Lois Openda's handball, awarded by the novel technology.

Such a gut-wrenching defeat marked Belgium's first reverse since going down to Morocco at the 2022 World Cup - and thereby handing Tedesco his first loss as Red Devils manager - but the 38-year-old was at least gracious in defeat and refused to point the finger at technology.

By virtue of seeing their 15-match unbeaten run crash and burn, the Belgians are third in the Group E standings - only above fellow pointless side Ukraine on goal difference - and Slovakia beating the latter on Friday would eliminate their chances of topping the group before they kick a ball at the weekend.

Formerly lauded for their 'golden generation' of talents, Belgium's decline has now seen the Red Devils go three games without a win at major tournaments - having won 13 of their previous 14 before that dismal sequence - and not since 2002 have they suffered a longer such streak.

Not since Euro 2000 have the Red Devils lost multiple matches at one European Championship, though, and not since the first-ever World Cup in 1930 have Belgium been consigned to defeat in both of their opening two games of a major tournament, but their morale levels will no doubt be heavily depleted compared to their optimistic opponents.

Romania's Nicolae Stanciu celebrates scoring their first goal with Radu Dragusin on June 17, 2024© Reuters

Few had a three-goal Romania victory against Ukraine on their bingo card for Euro 2024 - Serhiy Rebrov's men had even been tipped as dark horses by many - but thanks in no small part to an Andriy Lunin disasterclass, the Tricolours lit up the yellow-clad Allianz Arena.

Two mistakes from Lunin aided two long-range strikes from Nicolae Stanciu and Razvan Marin, before Denis Dragus put the cherry on top for Edward Iordanescu's charges, who now hold the honour of recording Romania's biggest win ever at the men's Euros.

Prior to the 2024 edition, a 3-2 beating of England in 2000 represented the Tricolours' only success at the continental gathering - they failed to pick up a single win in the 2008 or 2016 editions - but first place in Group E and a route to the knockout rounds is now theirs to lose.

Victory at the RheinEnergieStadion would seal Romania's knockout qualification with a game to spare, but while their beating of Ukraine was certainly striking, Iordanescu's men had been more than holding their own in the months leading up to this summer's Euros.

Indeed, only one of Romania's 16 matches has ended in defeat - a 3-2 friendly loss to Colombia in March - and they have now recorded three clean sheets on the bounce ahead of a 13th meeting with Belgium, whom they also bested 2-1 in a 2012 friendly during their most recent encounter.

Furthermore, should Romania become the latest team to stun the Belgians on Saturday, it would mark just the third time that they have won two matches at a single major tournament, and the first time ever at the Euros, having only ever done so at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups.

Belgium European Championship form:


Belgium form (all competitions):


Romania European Championship form:


Romania form (all competitions):



Team News

Jan Vertonghen dispenses his views during a Belgium presser on November 22, 2022© Reuters

While none of Belgium's starters or substitutes picked up any knocks against Slovakia, Thomas Meunier (thigh) was absent from the squad, while Axel Witsel (adductor) and Jan Vertonghen failed to make it onto the pitch despite being given the green light to make the bench.

Vertonghen has declared himself fit, though, and is an option to replace Yannick Carrasco on the left, but Witsel remains on the sidelines, while Meunier is not expected back in action until Belgium's final group game versus Ukraine.

During his pre-game press conference, Tedesco confirmed that Witsel had not recovered in time for the weekend's encounter, but he stopped short of declaring the 35-year-old's European Championship to be over.

Orel Mangala, Dodi Lukebakio and Youri Tielemans are also walking a tightrope after being booked on matchday one, but the latter is a candidate to replace the former in midfield, while Liverpool-linked winger Johan Bakayoko will certainly push to displace Jeremy Doku or Leandro Trossard, albeit probably unsuccessfully.

As for their buoyant counterparts, a near-perfect afternoon against Ukraine saw Iordanescu's players all emerge unscathed on the physical front, although goalscorer Marin is also one yellow card away from a ban after entering the referee's book on Monday.

Naturally, Romania would be expected to send out an unchanged starting lineup, although local media have reported that Parma winger Valentin Mihaila is a candidate to replace Florinel Coman on the left wing.

Mihaila was apparently overlooked for a starting role against Ukraine due to an illness, although he still came off the bench for the final half-hour and shone in qualifying, where he scored three of the four goals he boasts for his national team.

Iordanescu did not rule out an alteration or two when addressing the media in the week, but he insisted that he would not be making wholesale changes to his starting lineup.


Belgium possible starting lineup:
Casteels; Castagne, Debast, Faes, Theate; Tielemans, Onana; Doku, De Bruyne, Trossard; Lukaku

Romania possible starting lineup:
Nita; Ratiu, Dragusin, Burca, Bancu; R. Marin, M. Marin, Stanciu; Man, Dragus, Mihaila


SM words green background

We say: Belgium 2-1 Romania

As sensational as Romania's performance was against Ukraine, they were aided by Lunin's lacklustre display in between the sticks, and a Belgium side with a point to prove will no doubt be a tricky proposition.

While the Red Devils' goals counter still reads zero, it is not as if they were starved of chances in their opening loss, and with a tad more intelligence and ruthlessness in the final third, we have faith in Tedesco's side to right their Slovakian wrongs and blow the race for qualification wide open.


For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.


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Game History

How you voted: Belgium vs Romania

Belgium
62.2%
Draw
13.7%
Romania
24.1%
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Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco before the match on March 23, 2024
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Group A

TeamPWDLPTS
Q Germany Germany32107
Q Switzerland Switzerland31205
3 Hungary Hungary31023
4 Scotland flag Scotland30121

Group B

TeamPWDLPTS
Q Spain Spain33009
Q Italy Italy31114
3 Croatia Croatia30212
4 Albania national flag Albania30121

Group C

TeamPWDLPTS
Q England flag England31205
Q Denmark Denmark30303
Q Slovenia Slovenia30303
4 Serbia Serbia30212

Group D

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Q Austria Austria32016
Q France France31205
Q Netherlands Netherlands31114
4 Poland Poland30121

Group E

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Q Romania Romania31114
Q Belgium Belgium31114
Q Slovakia Slovakia31114
4 Ukraine Ukraine31114

Group F

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Q Portugal Portugal32016
Q Turkey Turkey32016
Q Georgia Georgia31114
4 Czech Republic Czech Republic30121


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