Belgium sauntered through the European qualifiers with a perfect 10 out of 10 record, scoring an average of four goals per game and conceding just three times themselves. However, their nearest competition were Russia and Scotland, while pummelling the likes of Cyprus, Kazakhstan and San Marino only helped to fuel those stats.
Roberto Martinez can think again if he expects to stroll up and collect another easy victory, and no doubt he’ll be instilling that message into his players and reminding them of the 5-2 loss they suffered away in Switzerland during the inaugural Nations League. Denmark are on a similar level to the Swiss and are a very tough side to overcome thanks to a strong defensive resolve.
Excluding non-FIFA friendlies, as well as a 3-0 defeat to Slovakia where their first team weren’t involved owing to a dispute with the Danish FA, the hosts are now unbeaten over 90 minutes since a 1-0 defeat to Montenegro in October 2016.
That’s an incredible run of 34 games at an even split (W17-D17). Although they haven’t faced too many heavyweights in that time, they’ve still squared off with the likes of Germany, Poland, Chile, Sweden, Mexico, Peru, France, Croatia and Switzerland.
Given Denmark drew with the very strongest of those sides – Germany, France, Croatia and Chile – we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Danes picking up a point. To help their cause, key midfielders Christian Eriksen (Inter), Thomas Delaney (Dortmund) and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Spurs) are all available, as are other important players.
There’s a strong spine to this team with goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester), centre-backs Simon Kjaer (Milan) and Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), as well as forwards Yussuf Poulsen (Leipzig) and Martin Braithwaite (Barcelona).
Belgium have most of their stars available as well as and plenty of depth, but there is a slight concern in defence. Thomas Vermaelen couldn’t make the trip due to travel restrictions and Dedryck Boyata is unfit, which combined with Vincent Kompany’s retirement leaves them shorn of some experience at centre-back.
However, they do still have Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, who are of course very familiar with one another having played together for Spurs, so it’s hardly the worst problem for Martinez to have.
Denmark +0.75 Asian Handicap
Still, Belgium conceded in both games against Russia during the Euro qualifiers, while they endured an early lapse in concentration hosting Cyprus in their most recent outing nine months ago.
They also conceded in both Nations League matches against Switzerland last time around, as well as in a friendly hosting the Netherlands during the same period.
That suggests their defence is vulnerable to decent teams and Denmark will pose a threat, particularly from set pieces.