Beaten in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 by Wales and then edged out by eventual winners France in the last four of the 2018 World Cup, the multi-talented squad moulded so impressively over the past five years by Roberto Martinez are strongly fancied by many observers to go all the way this time and lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy at Wembley on July 11.
The first task for head coach Martinez is to guide them through Group B, where they could be tested by Russia, Denmark and tournament debutants Finland
With the brilliant and hugely influential Kevin De Bruyne nursing a facial injury which means he is likely to miss at least some of the group stage, Belgium will look to playmaker Eden Hazard to hit the ground running and recover the kind of optimum form which has generally deserted him this season at Real Madrid.
The Belgians start their campaign in St Petersburg against a Russian side who will enjoy home advantage in two of their three fixtures.
Playing in front of their own fans saw Stanislav Cherchesov’s team exceed expectations when Russia hosted the World Cup Finals three years ago, reaching the quarter-finals.
They qualified comfortably for the Euro 2020 finals, finishing runners-up to Belgium and a massive nine points ahead of third-placed Scotland.
The Russians carry plenty of threat in attack where Valencia’s Denis Cheryshev dovetails so effectively with Zenit St Petersburg targetman Artem Dzyuba.
But they are vulnerable in defence with alarm bells raised by a humiliating 5-0 defeat away to Serbia in the Nations League last November.
A resurgent Denmark side will certainly fancy their chances of finishing ahead of Russia in the group. With all three of their group matches at their own Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Kasper Hjulmand’s squad should progress to the knockout stages.
Hjulmand has adopted a more progressive style of play with the Danes since taking charge last year, fully utilising the talent of star man Christian Eriksen who was a Serie A title winner with Inter Milan this season.
A scintillating start to their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in March, winning their first three games in Scotland’s group against Israel, Moldova and Austria with a combined goal difference of 14-0, provided an indication of their potency.
It all adds up to a daunting task for group minnows Finland but that was always going to be the case for the Nordic newcomers, regardless of which group they were drawn in.
But having waited so long to reach a first major tournament finals, the Finns won’t just be going along for the ride under ambitious coach Markku Kanerva.
Their defensively diligent and counter-attacking style could cause problems for their more fancied opponents. It’s a big stage for Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara to further enhance his burgeoning reputation and make the £50,000 the Ibrox club paid Dundee for him appear all the more of a bargain.
With former Celtic striker Teemu Pukki as their talisman up front, Finland can’t be discounted completely but it would still be a huge achievement if they avoid finishing bottom of Group B.