Kevin De Bruyne will miss the Euro 2020 first match of Belgium against Russia in St. Petersburg on Saturday as he is recovering from a facial fracture sustained in the Champions League final football match. Roberto Martinez’s team left the Manchester City midfielder behind in Belgium during a tour of Russia, but are expected to prepare for the team’s second Group B match next Thursday.
“My goal is to be ready for the match against Denmark,” De Bruyne told Uefa.com. The 29-year-old suffered injuries after an attack by Chelsea defender Antonio Ruediger in Porto last month. De Bruyne was substituted and chased down, while his colleagues at City suffered a 1–0 loss.
Belgium will also be without Borussia Dortmund midfielder Axel Vitsel on Saturday as he too is left behind to focus on recovering from Achilles tendon surgery. The world’s top team, the Red Devils, have beaten Russia twice in qualifying, but Martinez says they will not take their opponents easily.
“I agree that the first game in a big tournament is often the hardest,” said the Spanish coach. “You have to enter the tour mentally and physically. It will be a real test tomorrow because we know this team very well, but they also know us by heart and will have the support of their fans.”
Russia will hope to make a mark in a group with a strong Danish organization and starters in major tournament Finland. Their coach, Stanislav Cherchesov, who led them to the 2018 World Cup quarter-finals at home, believes Russia can win hearts with their recent meetings with Belgium, which also included a 3-3 friendly draw in 2017.
He said, “Belgium has 18 players who played in the World Cup in 2018. They are clearly a strong team. I have played them three times over the years and all the games have been great fun. We have to play our best tomorrow to be successful.”