Belgium and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will go head-to-head in Seville for a place in the quarter-finals on Sunday.
Number one in the world rankings, Belgium have never won a major tournament, having finished runners-up at the European Championship in 1980, while the Red Devils finished third at the 2018 World Cup.
Belgium have reached the knockout stages in each of their last five appearances at a major tournament (Euros and World Cup), progressing to the semi-final in their previous one at Russia 2018. Their defeat to eventual winners France three years ago is the only one of their last 10 games at major tournaments that they have failed to win (W9).
Boasting a golden generation, including Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Youri Tielemans and Thibaut Courtois, veteran defender Alderweireld is bullish about Belgium’s chances.
“I want to see it differently,” Alderweireld replied when asked if Portugal have an advantage given their 2016 success. “I can’t talk about how they feel or how they think, the only thing I can say is that we are very hungry.
“The desire is unbelievable with us to achieve big things for our country and for this team. So we will do everything in our powers to beat them.”
On whether this Belgium generation can be the one to deliver a trophy, Tottenham’s Alderweireld said: “We will do everything in our powers to become that generation. I think we have already shown that we can beat any team if we have a good day.
“But we know it is going to be a tough opponent, but we believe in our ideas and in our quality.”
Belgium will come up against superstar Ronaldo, who equalled Ali Daei for the most international goals in men’s football with his 109th following a two-goal haul in Portugal’s 2-2 draw against France.
But Alderweireld and Belgium are wary of more than just Ronaldo, the 32-year-old adding: “I think they are a very difficult team to beat. They have a lot of quality, the team is very compact, they know how to play big games in big tournaments.
“A lot of experience as well, so I think we have to be top to beat them. Of course everyone talks about Cristiano Ronaldo, we know he is one of the best in the world. But not only him, I think they have a lot of quality around him as well who create chances for him, So again we have to be top to beat them.”
Belgium have only failed to score in two of their last 58 games under head coach Roberto Martinez, averaging exactly three goals per game in this stretch of fixtures (174 in total).
The two games they have been shut out came in the 2018 World Cup semi-final against France (0-1), and in their most recent meeting with Portugal – a 0-0 draw in June 2018.
Belgium’s victory over Finland last time out marked their ninth win at the World Cup and Euros combined under Martinez, with the Spaniard now holding the outright managerial record for major tournament wins with the Red Devils.