BELGIUM- Can they go farther than they did at the 2018 World cup or will they bow out early?

The Belgium National team boasts a huge amount of talent in their so-called “Golden Generation” of players. They have a fantastic blend of young up and coming players mixed with an ageing group of players who can consistently put in good performances game after game, week after week. This dynamic is very interesting to see and is the main focal point of the team.

Belgium is a very diverse country with a combination of 3 different cultures; the french-speaking Wallon, the dutch-speaking Flemish and the immigrants who are all represented by the multicultural national football team. They carry the torch that represents all the cultural diversity within the nation and shows how it is possible to live in harmony by example.

This has really rallied the cause for the entire country to put aside their cultural differences to come to the support of the Red Devil cause.
To ensure there is no resentment in the team as well, Martinez has made sure to conduct all team interactions in English.

A brief overview of the team: The underfiring talisman, Eden Hazard; the prince of playmaking, Kevin De Bruyne; one of the most in-form strikers in Europe; Romelu Lukaku; the premier goalkeeper in La Liga Santander, Thibaut Courtois; Napoli’s highest goal scorer of all time in Dries Mertens, a developing central midfielder in Youri Tielemans and a young up and coming centre back in Jason Denayer accompanied by players such as Toby Aldeweireld and Jan Vertonghen who bring loads of experience to that backline. The team certainly does look impressive, but can they compete for the title ?

With a tactician like Roberto Martinez guiding them, a man who prefers rotating players and trying them all over the pitch, rather than changing the formation, they play simple yet effective counter-attacking football. A very flexible team that can either compress themselves or push out wider, to hold back more and counter or to go out and play an all-out attack, the possibilities are endless with the combination of talented players and a formation that fits the system perfectly, and with this team, Martinez has adapted the system into a non-conventional 343 or in recent cases, into a 3421.

Thierry Henry who was the second assistant manager to Martinez at the 2018 World Cup has been recalled to the assistant manager role in the coaching staff and he brings a lot of flair and experience to his role with a no-nonsense ideology of simple yet elegant football, the type of play that will guarantee you results.

Roberto Martinez and Thierry Henry are spearheading Belgium’s Road to Glory

Coming to the Belgian 26 man squad that will be competing at the Euros, the average age of the squad is 28 with 20 of its members between the ages of 27 and 34, making it the second oldest squad participating in this tournament. However, don’t let their age fool you, having one of the oldest squads brings them their own advantages with experienced veterans combining with up coming talent, they are truly a force to be reckoned with, coming in with 10 wins in their 10 Euro Qualifying matches and their goal difference of +37 is truly impressive.

The Belgium 26 man Squad for the Euros

Starting in net will be the World Cup Golden glove winner and the second most valued goalkeeper in the world, Thibaut Courtois. He has had a very good season for Los Blancos with 17 Clean Sheets, reaching the UCL Semi-finals and making the ‘Champions League squad of the Season’.

Thibaut Courtois(Real Madrid) will be look to retain his majestic form and continue it at the Euros

Shielding him in the defence are not many names but, it is likely that it will be two veterans aged 32 and 34 in Toby Aldeweireld and Jan Vertonghen respectively. Their lack of pace will be compensated by Lyon’s young star Jason Denayer who has had a stellar season with them. The experience that Vertonghen and Aldewiereld bring to this team will truly fortify the backline and will give a chance for Denayer to steal the show.

A player to watch out for : Jason Denayer(Lyon)

If fit, the Belgium Midfield looks like the one to beat and can be compared to the likes of France and Germany. Kevin De Bruyne, probably one of the best midfielders in the world if not the best, sustained minor injuries in the UCL Final loss to Chelsea and had to have minor operations. It is likely he will be missing their opening game against Russia but rest assured, will be fully fit and firing for the rest of the journey. His ideal partner would be Dortmund’s Axel Witsel, however, he has been injured since January suffering from a ruptured Achilles Tendon, and will mostly be out for the opening games. However, they do have good understudies in Leicester’s Youri Tielemans and Wolves Leander Dendoncker as well as Clube Brugge’s Hans Vanaken and Leicester’s Dennis Praet who has received very little game-time compared to the others.

The Midfield Maestro Kevin De Bruyne(Manchester City) who if fully fit will be the linchpin in Martinez’s plans

On the wingback/midfielder roles, on the left, we could see Eden Hazard’s younger brother, Dortmund’s Thorgan Hazard. The player rivalling him for this position will be Atletico Madrid superstar, Yannick Carrasco, who has had an amazing season for Diego Simeone’s side, finishing top of the league.

On the right flank, we will be most likely seeing another Dortmund player in Thomas Meunier who has however received very little game time under his Dortmund managers Lucien Favre and Edin Terzic, is very accustomed to this role for the National team. But due to less game time, we could see a young Leicester Player playing out wide. Timothy Castagne, who like his compatriot Tielemans, has had a very good season under Brendan Rodgers and has a very strong chance of featuring for the Red Devils.

On the left wing, will be the underfiring Captain, Eden Hazard, who despite having a dismal start to his Los Blancos career, rarely disappoints when it comes to representing his country. His compatriot on the right would be Napoli’s All-time leading goalscorer, Dries Mertens, who has had a stellar season for the Gli Azzurri, contributing 17 goals in 18 starts. On this right side, we could see the introduction of a young star in Jeremy Doku. Doku, a player for Stade Rennais, has garnered lot of top flight experience in Ligue 1 and the Champions League and is a player that can be used to inject pace into this Belgium side.

The Captain Eden Hazard(Real Madrid) who will be looking to regain his lost form

In the striker position, there can only be one man, Romelu Lukaku.

A true poacher and an elite goalscorer in every sense, he scored 24 goals and provided 11 assists as he led the Nerazzurri to a Serie A triumph. He is also Belgium’s leading goalscorer with 60 goals in 93 appearances and he will be looking to build on that at the Euros.

Romelu Lukaku (Inter) will be looking to carry his excellent form to the Euros

With a fully fit and firing Belgium team, they can go all the way as they have talent in every position as well as having fantastic squad depth and with tactical maestros in Martinez and Henry, they should be considered strong favourites along with the likes of France, Portugal and England.

Best Player: Kevin De Bruyne

Top Scorer: Romelu Lukaku

Highest Assists: Kevin De Bruyne

Player to Watch: Eden Hazard

Young Talent: Jeremy Doku

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