Arguably the most awaited round of 16 fixture ended in dismay for Ronaldo and co. with a slender loss to Belgium’s golden generation. Portugal kept attacking relentlessly, as Thorgan Hazard’s 42nd-minute strike was enough for Roberto Martinez’s side.
Belgium started with their usual 3-4-3 formation, which had a counter-attack written all over it. With players like Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Thorgan Hazard, and Thomas Meunier, Belgium was always a force to reckon with.
Their 3-man defence was capable enough to keep the tournament’s top scorer quiet for the whole 90 minutes. Although their opponents did manage to threaten on numerous occasions, Thibaut Courtois came up big with a few of his top drawer saves to keep his clean sheet intact.
Portugal started with their usual back 4 system, this keeping Bruno Fernandes on the bench again. Renato Sanches, who had an impressive season with Lille in 2020-21, was noticeably exuberant on the night. With their non-stop attacks after conceding, Portugal looked incisive.
However, the efficacy was unusually below par. With their substitutes as well, they couldn’t manage to fashion a goal. The closest they came was the weak foot strike from Raphael Guerreiro that hit the far post in the last 10 minutes.
This was the second big game in a row where De Bruyne picked up an injury and had to be subbed off. This time around, even earlier than the last occasion in the UCL final. With Portugal’s miseries relating to Bruno Fernandes’ form in the Euro 2020, Diogo Jota’s wasteful nature in front of goal did not help Portugal’s case.
Facing an organized team like Belgium, Ronaldo’s side required efficiency to be on their side. However, it was not the case as the defending champions seemed helpless even after dictating the entire game. With Portugal now out, Belgium will face Italy in the quarter-final at the Allianz Arena in Munich.