League A is supposed to be the top tier of the UEFA Nations League, but Belgium are probably the only team that tick that box in Group 3, where the Red Devils play Switzerland from at the King Baudouin Stadium on Friday night.
Manager Roberto Martinez arrived at Belgium in place of Marc Wilmots to little fanfare, but the Spaniard has improved the team’s fortunes on the pitch, and they were unlucky not to win the 2018 World Cup after beating Brazil - before being narrowly defeated by France in the semi-final.
Since Russia, they have enjoyed a 3-0 win away to Iceland (also in Group 3) and Belgium are strong favourites to claim the points against the Swiss on Friday night, with Ladbrokes offering 4/9 about the home side winning in Brussels.
Hazard & Lukaku
There is no Kevin de Bruyne in this latest squad as the Manchester City midfielder completes his comeback from injury, although Eden Hazard is now captain of the national side and it’s little surprise, considering he’s one of the best players in the world.
Hazard finally appears to have found the right club manager in the form of Maurizio Sarri at Premier League side Chelsea and he’s likely to be a popular First Goalscorer choice at 4/1 with BetVictor, considering he’s likely to be on penalty duties as well as adopting an advanced position.
Then again, Romelu Lukaku boasts an impressive games-to-goals ratio for Belgium and William Hill go 3/1 that he gets the ball rolling with the opening strike, while you can get 6/5 with the same firm that he scores.
Swiss Aim For Draw
As for Switzerland, they had a mixed bag of a World Cup, which saw them come out of a group including Brazil and Serbia before being edged out by Sweden at the last 16 stage.
BetVictor offer 13/2 about the visitors winning this match, and it should be noted that they enjoyed an emphatic 6-0 victory over Iceland in their inaugural Nations League clash, although perhaps that owed more to the incompetence among opponents, who have been punching above their weight for too long.
Indeed, Vladimir Petkovic’s side promptly went to the King Power Stadium to be beaten by a weakened England side. They will here be focusing hard on keeping things tight, and aiming to come away with a draw to keep the winner of this group firmly in the balance.
Unibet have 18/5 that the clash ends all square, with Dries Mertens potentially replacing De Bruyne in that attacking position, although Monaco’s Youri Tielemans could well be involved after emerging as a seriously talented player.
Back Fancy Scorelines!
The Martinez era at Belgium has been characterised by high-scoring affairs and you can get 6/5 with Bet365 that they lead at half-time and full-time in this clash. Alternatively, there is 3/1 with Paddy Power that the game is level at the break before the home side run out winners come the final whistle.
We always like going for some fancy scorelines when Belgium play at home and a 4-1 victory in their favour has been chalked up at 20/1 (bet365), which could be a decent runner considering that the defence isn’t always watertight when the team pour forward.
If you think Hazard is capable of running the show, then Betfair have 28/1 about the midfielder making the latest step towards a Ballon d’Or prize by scoring a hat-trick, and giving Belgium serious claims of winning the first ever Nations League.