Last shot at global glory for Belgium’s golden generation
Since Roberto Martinez took over in August 2016, the Belgian national team has reached new heights, and they have high expectations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Belgian appetites have only been further piqued by their historic third-place finish at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, and the Europeans have unmistakable plans to win their first World Cup title on Arab soil.
Clevpicks.com will introduce you the Belgian national football team...
Thibaut Courtois, who won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid and was named The Best FIFA Goalkeeper in 2018, Kevin De Bruyne, a legend at Manchester City and a four-time English Premier League champion, Eden Hazard, the adidas Silver Ball winner at the 2018 tournament in Russia, and Romelu Lukaku are just a few of the stars the Belgian national team will look to in their quest for glory.
With six victories and two draws, the Belgians breezed through the qualification process for Qatar 2022TM, and Martinez's team is still a tough opponent despite failing to advance to the UEFA Nations League Final Four in September.
Belgium's Group F fixtures
Belgium-Canada (22:00 local time, Ahmad bin Ali Stadium Al Rayyan)
Belgium-Morocco o16:00 local time, Al Thumama Stadium)
Croatia-Belgiumu (18:00 local time, Ahmad bin Ali Stadium Al Rayyan)
Martinez's approach and tactics
The 2013 FA Cup-winning coach has kept faith in this formation in the Belgium dugout, where he lines up with two attacking midfielders and gives his marauding full-backs permission to push forward. He was a strong proponent of the 3-4-3 system when he held the hotseat at Wigan Athletic, where he already enjoyed legendary status after an impressive stint as a player. The Belgians' tactical strategy includes waiting until the opposition has gotten on top of them before applying the press.
The Spaniard's only other departure from his tried-and-true formation came against Brazil in the 2018 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal. Belgian achieved their best-ever result in the FIFA World Cup thanks to this brave action.
The current members of the Red Devils’ squad have been massively impressed by Martinez’s tactical nous and the strong relationship he enjoys with his dressing room. “He has two strengths: he is equally impressive on the training pitch as he is off it,” centre-back Jan Vertonghen told FIFA. “He really excels in terms of organisation when it comes to the national team and Belgian football in general. He’s also capable of putting together a strong group with a good blend of personalities and talented players. He knows how to get all of his players singing from the same hymn sheet, which is never an easy task.”
“He’s constantly talking to us and is incredibly close to his players,” commented captain Eden Hazard. “That’s the biggest quality a coach needs, particularly in international football, where he doesn’t get to work with us that often. What’s more, he’s very good tactically and isn’t afraid to make big decisions. He’s a great coach.”
Key player: Kevin De Bruyne
When play begins in Qatar, Belgium will have a number of outstanding players vying for the adidas Golden Ball, including the aforementioned Hazard, Lukaku, and Courtois, who all play for elite teams in Europe.
But one member of the national squad who consistently put up outstanding performances, Kevin De Bruyne, has stood head and shoulders above the rest in recent years. Everyone who has had the opportunity to collaborate closely with the gifted schemer consistently remarks that the midfield maestro is just from another planet, and this is not a coincidence.
“He’s the most talented playmaker in international football right now,” declared Martinez during the international break in September. “The way he reads the game and interprets time and space and his execution in front of goal are simply amazing.”
Meanwhile, his midfield team-mate Axel Witsel told FIFA. “He’s a magician.” “It’s a privilege to play alongside him. He sees things that others don’t and has been producing performances like this for a number of years now. He’s simply outstanding.”
Belgium's Romelu Lukaku, Belgium's Eden Hazard, Belgium's Dedryck Boyata and Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne pictured during a training session of the Belgian national soccer team Red Devils, in Torino, Italy, on Wednesday 06 October 2021. The team is preparing for the semi-finals of the Nations League, against France on Thursday..BELGA PHOTO BRUNO FAHY (Photo by BRUNO FAHY/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)
One to watch: Charles de Ketelaere
Charles De Ketelaere, who is only 21 years old, has already made a name for himself as one of the sport's most promising young players.
Standing 1.92 meters tall, the towering offensive midfielder caught the eye of AC Milan, who last summer spent €35 million to sign him after a stellar campaign with Club Brugge. He put on an especially impressive display against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League group stage matchup, giving Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe a night to forget as the teams battled to a 1-1 draw at the Stade Jan Breydel.
De Ketelaere can play everywhere in the front line and is equally comfortable playing on the left, right, in the No. 10 position, as a second striker, or as the line-leader. He performs especially well when challenged by adversaries in confined settings.
Martinez still has a very useful option in the young player despite the fact that he has yet to command a starting spot in a Belgium team that boasts the attacking powers of Hazard, Lukaku, Michy Batshuayi, and De Bruyne. Martinez will need to carefully manage the teenager during the tournament.
Belgium's Charles De Ketelaere pictured during a training session of the Belgian national soccer team the Red Devils, Tuesday 20 September 2022, in Tubize, in preparation of the Nations League matches against the Netherlands and Wales. BELGA PHOTO BRUNO FAHY (Photo by BRUNO FAHY / BELGA MAG / Belga via AFP) (Photo by BRUNO FAHY/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)
Belgium's World Cup history
The Red Devils, who won Olympic gold in 1920, were unable to make an impact during the first five World Cup tournaments and were unable to go past the first round from 1930 until 1970.
The national team would later experience better times, though, and between 1982 and 2002, they were able to compete in every edition of the world championship. The 1986 World Cup saw the Europeans put in their best performance, finishing fourth after losing to a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina in the semi-finals. The Belgian supporters had to wait until the 2018 competition to witness their team outperform that season when they finished third after defeating England in the Play-Off for Third Place.
The Belgians’ bid for glory in 2014 came to an end at the quarter-final stage when Argentina were once again their conquerors, while they failed to make the 2006 and 2010 editions.
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