Will Belgium finally match their potential in Euro 2020?
Despite winning every single game up to their hard fought quarter-final defeat to Argentina in the World Cup finals last summer – a more than understandable loss with all things considered – Marc Wilmots and his supposed ‘golden generation’ of talented Belgium stars simply didn’t look like the formidable outfit many initially expected of them in Brazil.
From those tasked with resolutely defending their nation’s back-line, to the many players operating up-top for Belgium with seemingly deserving reputations, Les Diables Rouges nevertheless seemed to lack a certain something amongst the core of their team that no one has quite yet managed to put a definitive finger on.
Belgium’s Premier League Stars
Maybe it’s because most of the Belgians representing their country at the World Cup finals in Brazil last summer happen to play in the Premier League. The plucky European nation looked all too similar to how England usually perform on the international stage – proving far too slow in moving the ball around the pitch efficiently enough, as well as witnessing several of the main stars simply failing to turn up when their side needed them most.
So then, in light of Belgium’s less than convincing stint at the 2014 World Cup, will Euro 2016 nevertheless offer Marc Wilmots the chance to truly get the best out of his promising players come the end of the 2015/16 domestic season?
Well, if Belgium seriously want to step their game up at the approaching Euro 2016 finals potentially heading their way this summer, the team simply must start performing in a more efficient style across their qualifying group. At the time of writing, Wales seemingly hold all the cards at this stage in the game, boldly finding themselves in Group B’s top-spot ahead of their supposedly superior competition.
Belgium’s Euros Qualifying
Even though Belgium can theoretically finish second and still find themselves at Euro 2020 just a few months down the line, Marc Wilmots simply won’t want to be entering the competition with such an unmistakable cloud of doubt surrounding his players, as well as his own position on an individual level. Belgium should be beating the likes of Wales with all the money that has been spent on their ranks in the last few seasons after all…
However, even if the determined Europeans continue failing to impress throughout their qualifying group leading up to the finals next summer, there is absolutely no reason why Belgium couldn’t start turning on the form once they officially enter the actual tournament itself. With a squad as seemingly well balanced as this one, the promise certainly remains in place for The Red Devils in the cold light of day.
In goal, Belgium still plays host to one of the best ‘keepers currently operating in the modern game. Thibaut Courtois may admittedly fall short of truly comparing with Germany’s Manuel Neuer of course – but other than the lofty Bayern shot-stopper on the global footballing scene at the moment – there ultimately aren’t many goal-keepers who can match Courtois’ overall level of ability.
A solid defence?
The likes of Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany, Thomas Vermaelen and Jan Vertonghen should also offer a respectable foundation at the back for their manager in Euro 2016 – just as long as each player manages to stay fit for the majority of the 2015/16 campaign. With the uncompromising Axel Witsel or Radja Nainggolan sitting in front of their defensive however, Marc Wilmots ultimately has enough strength in depth at the back to feel confident this summer.
Best attackers in the world
When it comes the attacking areas of the pitch though, Belgium are arguably in an even sounder position. With a combination of Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Marouane Fellaini, our Euro 2020 top goalscorer tip Romelu Lukaku and Keven de Bruyne in place for their side this summer, the nation of Belgium simply won’t have too many excuses to fall back on should fate offer them a tough ride across Euro 2016. As de Bruyne has only just been sold to Manchester City for a somewhat incredible £55 million, the pressure certainly remains on for the former Wolfsburg man and co. this summer.
Both Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke will also provide enough cover in the striking department for Marc Wilmots should he need to call upon some added fire power in Euro 2016 – which will undoubtedly arrive as good news considering Benteke’s injury induced absence from the World Cup.
Ultimately then, Belgium still have a fantastically promising squad in place to do some real damage on the international scene this summer, despite the team’s clear lack of cutting edge in the qualifying stages so far. However, as many eventually successful sides often prove to be slow starters early on in the proceedings, to completely write the Belgians off at this stage in the game would certainly seem rather premature to say the least.
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