Belgium, who reigned the FIFA ranking table for many years, still has not won major titles. They finished 3rd in Russia 2018, but they surely crave a big win, since most often they get stopped in the World Cup Quarter-Finals. Belgium has displayed dominant performances against weaker opposition, as they rarely, if ever, slip up in Qualifiers. This is the golden generation’s last chance to win the World Cup.
How do they play?
If you have a team full of technically solid players, such as Kevin de Bruyne, it only makes sense that you prefer to keep the ball down and the passes fast. The midfield’s main task is to supply the powerful front line with accurate thru-passes. To put it briefly, Belgium is all about physicality and technicality.
Why they can win?
You don’t have to spend too long looking at Belgium’s lineup to understand how they spent many years topping the FIFA World Rankings. Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois – all are A-class players who are worth tens upon tens of millions of euros. Add in the experienced Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel and Dries Mertens and you get a combination that has quite realistic chances of going all the way.
Update 21.11.2022. Lukaku is still stuck with injuries and is expected to miss at least the first 2 group stage matches!
Why they can lose?
So far, Belgium has made minced meat of somewhat weaker opposition in the Qualifiers and Group Stages. However, when it comes to the best teams in the world and the playoffs, they have often managed to fall short. Take for example the Quarter-Finals in 2014 against Argentina (World Cup), in 2016 against Wales (Euros), or the most recent 2021 loss to Italy (Euros). The only exception was the 2018 World Cup, when they surpassed Brazil in the Quarter-Finals, only later to be stopped by France in the Semis.
The leading stars
Although any player on the list could end up making a difference, you can’t ignore Kevin de Bruyne. The Manchester City midfielder has hinted that his national career might not last for long and Qatar 2022 could very well be his last major tournament. Second on the list is Thibaut Courtois, who – unsurprisingly – was recently voted as the 7th best footballer in the world in the Ballon d’Or.
The fresh faces
As the golden generation is slowly but surely making their way out, Roberto Martinez is aiming to introduce some fresh faces. This might open the door to Charles de Ketelaer, who joined AC Milan over the summer transfer window. The 21-year-old is widely seen as one potential heir who will take the reigns from de Bruyne. Then we also have Leandro Trossard, who doesn’t yet play for A-class teams but has managed to secure a central role in Brighton & Hove Albion. No wonder, since the youngster scored a hat-trick against Liverpool and also found the net against Manchester City and Chelsea.