This could be the year Belgium finally deliver. After sitting at the top of the FIFA rankings for what seems like an eternity, this could be the summer Belgium go one step further than their final appearance in 1980 and claim the European trophy.
The manager is blessed with one of the most talented squads in international football. He has star players who compete for some of the biggest domestic clubs on the planet, including Madrid, Chelsea, Dortmund, City, and Inter. They boast dazzling quality not seen in Belgium for more than a generation and it’s no wonder the majority of their top talent plays in the biggest leagues in Europe.
Belgium qualified for the Euros in emphatic style, winning all 10 of their Group I games. That included the demolition of Russia, Scotland, and Cyprus over the home and away legs, let alone the easy wins against Kazakhstan and San Marino. Remarkably, Belgium conceded just three goals during their road to the Euros. They scored 40 goals in qualifying – an average of four per game. And while the seasoned stars did much of the work, they were aided by some exciting young talent coming into the team.
Fitting so much attacking talent into the Belgium Euro squad is difficult. The manager solves this by deploying a 3-4-3 system that relies on the defensive unity of his three center-backs, and wingers who fall back when required. In midfield, one man is tasked with holding back while the rest are unleashed to support the forwards.
With so much choice of star players, the only real weakness for Belgium is expectations. Fans at home look at the success of France recently and want a part of it. Belgium lost to France in the 2018 semi-finals three years ago but are more than a match for Les Bleus.
This summer Belgium will play their group games in Copenhagen and St Petersburg. They are clear favourites to escape a group that includes Denmark, Russia, and Finland – and winning Group B would see them face one of the best third-placed teams in the round-of-16 in Seville.
Expectations are high for what is considered Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’, especially considering that this may be the last end-tournament for this generation. They lost to Wales in the quarter-finals at the previous Euros, which was their first appearance at this tournament since they hosted the 2000 finals. Five years of progress has since been undertaken and now the manager is tasked with delivering the silverware the nation so desperately hopes for.