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Finland vs Belgium preview: Red Devils out to Finnish underdogs off
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James Nalton
LiveScore
Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard celebrate during Belgium's 2-1 win over Denmark on matchday two
Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard celebrate during Belgium's 2-1 win over Denmark on matchday two

Group B: Finland v Belgium, kick-off 8pm (UK time, BBC1)

Belgium have taken their perfect record from qualifying into the tournament proper, winning two out of two to send them through to the last 16 with a game to spare.

Roberto Martinez’s side won all 10 of their games in qualifying and will be looking to keep their record going when they face Finland in Saint Petersburg.

The Fins will have other ideas, though, and a draw or better could see them take second place if Russia slip up against Denmark.

A good result will also see them hold on to third place and secure the points likely required to go through as one of the best third-placed teams.

Story so far

Belgium got off to a blistering start against Russia, seeing their opponents off 3-0 on their own patch.

Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace in that game but the 2-1 victory against Denmark belonged to the returning Kevin De Bruyne, who assisted one and scored another after coming off the bench at half-time.

A solitary goal from Joel Pohjanpalo was enough for Finland to secure three points against Denmark and gives them a chance of qualification for the last 16.

They were unable to build on that result against Russia and were on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat thanks to an Aleksei Miranchuk strike.

Getting something against Belgium will be a difficult task, but Finland will have surprised plenty by even being in the running at this stage in their first-ever Euros appearance.

Another goal, Joel?

Pohjanpalo, 26, has already made senior appearances for seven different clubs having spent much of his time at Bayer Leverkusen out on loan.

Injuries have led to staggered blocks of appearances at various clubs and he'll be desperate to settle down soon.

Yet he has been one of the livelier strikers at this tournament, with his physicality, movement and aerial prowess evident.

Finland will be looking to Pohjanpalo to alleviate some of the pressure on the more high-profile Teemu Pukki next to him and add to his goal against Denmark.

De Bruyne back

Kevin De Bruyne made a masterful return to action against Denmark on matchday two
Kevin De Bruyne made a masterful return to action against Denmark on matchday two

De Bruyne fractured his eye socket following a clash with Antonio Rudiger in the Champions League final, ruling him out of Belgium’s Group C opener against Russia.

But the talismanic midfielder returned in style against Denmark.

Having introduced the Manchester City man in the second half against the Danes, Martinez may now give his star midfielder the nod from the off.

The Belgium boss was impressed with his captain’s return to action. He said: “You never doubt Kevin De Bruyne's talent.

“This was a very impressive way for a player who has been away for a long time to introduce himself and affect the game in that way.”

Back three battle

Finland's average position map so far shows how deep they have played in their two group games
Finland's average position map so far shows how deep they have played in their two group games

Both these sides have used three centre-backs in the middle of their defence - not that their styles are similar. 

Belgium are set up to try to get the most from their attacking talent, and Martinez has decided the best way to go about this is to use two attacking midfielders behind Lukaku.

Width is provided by the attacking wing-backs, while a central midfield two offer extra solidity in front of the back three.

Finland will use that extra defender in the middle to help absorb pressure from stronger teams before looking to grab something of their own on the counter.

Finland are third-bottom when it comes to average possession per game, with 41%, while Belgium have had the second-most possession on average with 58%.

Rotating Red Devils

Romelu Lukaku has been the focal point of Belgium's attack but could be rested against Finland
Romelu Lukaku has been the focal point of Belgium's attack but could be rested against Finland

After making two changes from the side that thrashed Russia for the victory over Denmark, Martinez may rotate his starting XI more radically with qualification already secured.

There are six players in the squad who are yet to play a minute in the tournament and they could be given game time in order to get some match sharpness in case they are needed later in the tournament.

One of these players is 19-year-old winger Jeremy Doku.

The tricky winger and supreme dribbler who plays for Ligue 1 side Rennes will be one to watch out for should he feature.

Tags

BelgiumFinlandEuropean Championship
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