Another major tournament has ended in failure for Belgium. They could only get to the quarter finals at Euro 2020 and the faces of dejection at the end of their defeat at the hands of a classy Italy said it all. So, what happens to this so called Golden Generation?
For many years now, Belgium have been the best ranked side in the world. This they have failed to translate top titles and as it stands, the nation hasn’t won any major title. Winning Euro 2020 was marked as the target for this collection of players and even manager Roberto Martinez alluded to the same, saying time might be running out.
While they made it out of the group stages, their only comfortable game at the competition, would be the 3-0 win over Russia. Their deficiency is well captured by the fact despite having some of the best attacking talent, they spent the majority of their game against Italy in their defensive half.
The loss thereafter was well deserved and no one in the Red Devils’ team had complaints as the best team at the tournament, Italy progressed. With Italy ranked favorites to with the competition, Belgium’s loss, like many more nations before, wasn’t entirely unexpected, and as the competition continues you can see the football betting tips of Wincomparator.
Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, Thorgan Hazard, Youri Tielemans, Leandro Trossard, Thomas Meunier and Yannick Carasco are players that can walk into any serious team and command regular football. Yet the team still struggled, and future looks bleak as the restructuring starts.
What does Belgium need to do?
The first area that will need addressing, is defence. Most of their first choice defenders may not be available for the 2022 World Cup. Japan based Thomas Vermaelen is 35, Tottenham Hotspur’s Toby Alderweireld is 32 and Jan Vertonghen is 34. Perhaps they may be availablke for Qatar 2022 but the big question is if they’ll survive the purge badly needed at the team.
Going to the 2014 World Cup, Belgium were ranked the dark horses but a few serious voices would still bet on them to do well. At Euro 2016, they had matured well and at the 2018 World Cup they were among favorites. They disappointed in each of these tournaments.
Whereas Roberto Martinez has done well to keep Belgium top of the world, they haven’t really peaked at tournaments and his time with the team, though still under contract, may be subject to serious scrutiny as the Golden Generation heads out. Why he has failed to achieve anything with a team of players that have been superb at club level is a top concern and the Belgian FA may see this as a valid question to warrant his removal.
While it looks like the whole team is a failure, a little tweaking is all that’s needed, and that would be in defence. Jeremy Doku represents the future of the team and Courtois has a few more years to play but Axel Witsel, Vermaelen, Vertonghen and Alderweireld’s time is up.
A complete restructure isn’t necessary, with the team still good to play along the Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard strings but Leander Dendoncker, Jason Denayer and Pascal Struijk are among players who should be considered as potential injections to the team.
A rethink will also be needed in attack, to assess the need for Cristian Benteke and Michy Batshuayi, who haven’t been very instrumental at the national team level as Lukaku has been.