Belgium vs. Tunisia, 8 a.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

  • Belgium -237
  • Tunisia +814
  • Draw +388

Bet to Watch

Belgium -1.25 (-117)

If you just looked at the scoreline from Belgium’s 3-0 win over Panama, you’d think it went as expected. But the truth is that it took some time — and some magic — for the Red Devils to break down Los Canaleros. Dries Mertens’ wonder-volley just after halftime was the stroke of brilliance the Belgians needed to relieve the pressure and from there they cruised.

The same logic can be applied to Tunisia’s 2-1 loss to England in their opening match. On the surface it may look like England were lucky to get a stoppage-time winner to get by the Eagles of Carthage, but in truth Tunisia was lucky not to lose by four or five goals. Tunisia created just 0.1 expected goals (plus the penalty) against England while allowing 3.1. This was a comprehensive win by England, despite the scoreline.

 

Truthfully, it was a disappointing performance by Tunisia. They weren’t expected to win, but they should have been more organized and harder to break down, and that doesn’t bode well heading into a match against another attacking dynamo.

In fact, Belgium’s group of attackers is probably more prolific than England’s. Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Mertens all bring something different — and dangerous — to the table. They are a handful, and Tunisia didn’t show the ability to cope with that handful against England.

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This isn’t to say that Tunisia won’t adjust and improve, but they will need to win this match if they have any intention of playing in the next round. That will force the North African side to play a more open style and make them ripe for the picking. It may take Belgium some time to figure it out, but that’s no reason to worry. As they showed against Panama, the goals will come in bunches for these guys.

Follow Michael J. Leboff on Twitter
@TheBigLeebowski