Euro 2016 qualifiers: Belgium seek Group B top spot with Israel win
Marc Wilmot’s Belgium leapfrogged Group B rivals Wales into top spot after their victory over Andorra, coupled with their main challengers’ defeat to Bosnia, and they can finish at the summit with a triumph over final opponents Israel.
Any result other than a win over Israel could see Chris Coleman’s Welshmen return to the top, so Belgium will seek a convincing home ruling in only their second ever meeting with their Middle Eastern opponents after already securing a place in France.
The hosts overcame Israel 1-0 in the reverse clash earlier this year with Manchester United targetman Marouane Fellaini bagging the winner, and the club and country Red Devils star is 5/1 with Coral to open proceedings once again.
Having already sealed qualification for their first Euro finals since 2000, Belgium may have be feeling the emotional effects and Israel are 8/1 to secure a win which could still see them finish third in a play-off position.
The travelling nation had been in a strong position for third-place until they suffered a shock loss at the hands of Cyprus, meaning they must now get a better result against Belgium than Bosnia and Herzegovina manage away to their previous Eastern Mediterranean conquerors.
After an impressive World Cup campaign last summer, reaching the quarter-finals in Brazil, the Belgians are now aiming to build upon that tournament showing and Chelsea attacker Eden Hazard believes they have the quality to succeed.
The Premier League star wore the captain’s armband during the recent triumph over Andorra, with usual skipper Vincent Kompany having missed out through injury, and is 9/2 to strike last in his latest outing.
“Our aim is to win Euro 2016,” declared the Stamford Bridge forward. “We are aware that we can win it – there is enough quality in the group [of players].
“We want to do something massive in France but we need everything to go well. But the Euros are not for tomorrow. First we have to play a good season.”
Hazard dispatched a penalty against Andorra but missed another spot-kick and paid tribute to his international teammate Fellaini, with both joint-top of the scoring charts for their country, as well as reflecting on that failed effort from 12 yards.
The 24-year-old continued: “Without that miss, I would have been top scorer [in qualifying]. But I will score on Tuesday against Israel. We really want to win and finish in style.
“In my opinion, Fellaini has been the best player in qualifying. He has scored a lot of goals even if he has not played all the matches.”
Belgium have plenty of firepower which is capable of seeing them secure victory, not just in their final qualifier, but in France next summer too, with Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne also a threat going forward.
Everton’s bull-dozing hitman Lukaku is 4/1 for a brace or more, while Manchester City ace De Bruyne is 6/5 to strike again anytime. Israel’s main goal danger should be Red Bull Salzburg striker Omer Damari, and he is 4/1 to get on the scoresheet.
Betting tip: Marouane Fellaini to score first @ 5/1