Euro 2021: Is this the last chance for Belgium's golden generation to win a major trophy?

Star-studded Belgium are one of the clear favourites to win Euro 2020 and it might be the last chance for an ageing golden generation to win a major trophy.

Belgium national football team; Credit: Twitter/@BelRedDevils

Belgium are probably the best team on paper going into the rescheduled Euro 2020 starting on June 11. The star-studded team will be hoping to win their first major trophy when they start their campaign against Russia on June 12 at Saint Petersburg. Head coach, Roberto Martinez, who has been with the side for five years now has done a fabulous job of taking Belgium to the top of FIFA World ranking and staying there since 2018. But, end of the day, it’s all about winning trophies and this might be the last chance for an ageing golden generation of players.

Belgium was eliminated in the quarter-final by Wales in the last edition of European Championship in 2016 and finished third at the FIFA World Cup 2018 held in Russia. They had a perfect Euro 2020 qualifiers, winning all 10 games, scoring 40 goals, and conceding just three. Martinez’ side has been playing with a 3-4-3 formation for the last five years and is likely to continue with that.

Real Madrid custodian Thibaut Courtois will be the first choice goalkeeper. The 29-year-old had a very good season for Los Blancos, keeping 17 clean sheets in 38 La Liga appearances. Meanwhile, an ageing defence line will be a cause of concern of Martinez. Toby Alderweireld(32), Jan Vertonghan(34) and Thomas Vermaelen(35) will form the three-man defence. Borussia Dortmund’s Thomas Meunier and Thorgan Hazard can be deployed as the wing-backs.

Injuries in midfield

Playmaker Kevin De Bruyne is a sure starter in the midfield, if available. But the 29-year-old playmaker sustained a double facial fracture during Manchester City’s Champions League final loss to Chelsea on Saturday and is doubtful for the initial games. Defensive midfielder, Axel Witsel, who provides the much-needed balance to an attack-minded team is coming back from a long injury break and is fighting hard to get fully fit for the competition.

24-year-old Youri Tielemans, who scored a sensational goal in the FA Cup final to win the title for Leicester, is one of the most sort after midfielders in world football right now after an eye-catching season for the Foxes. He is likely to start the initial matches alongside Wolves’ Leander Dendoncker in the absence of De Bruyne and Witsel. Seasoned match-winner Nacer Chadli and Atletico Madrid’s Yannick Carrasco have the ability to come off the bench and deliver.

Although, this team is not known for a single player, if there was one star to be picked, it would be Eden Hazard. The Real Madrid winger was once compared with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But, since he left Chelsea for Real Madrid he is having the worst form of his career. Struggling with injuries, he started just 10 games for the Madrid team in the last season. However, he has been included in the 26-man squad with the hopes of finding form. When in form, he can single-handedly take on even the best defence in the world.

Big strong and pacey forwards

Romelu Lukaku will be the main striker up front. The 28-year-old had a stellar season for Inter Milan, scoring 24 goals and providing 11 assists to win the Serie A title. The 190cm tall forward is blessed with- pace, strength, height and ball control- which is a rare combination in world football. He can power his way through even the strongest defence. His ability to hold the ball and quick turn of pace is a lethal weapon. Experienced campaigner Dries Mertens and Christian Benteke are more than handy options on the bench. Youngster Jeremy Doku can add a bit more pace and energy to the attack.

The biggest strength of the team is that the core of the team has been playing together for a long time and have enough experience of playing at the major tournaments. If they don’t get complacent and work together as a team they can surely win the title.

Belgium are placed in Group B and will start their Campaign against Russia before taking on Denmark on June 17 and Finland on June 22 at Copenhagen. They are expected to win the group and if they do so, they will face the third place finishers from either of Group A or D or E or F.

FULL SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Matz Sels.

Defenders: Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Vermaelen, Thomas Meunier, Jason Denayer, Dedryck Boyata, Leander Dendoncker, Timothy Castagne.

Midfielders: Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Nacer Chadli, Yannick Carrasco, Youri Tielemans, Thorgan Hazard, Dennis Praet, Hans Vanaken.

Forwards: Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku, Christian Benteke, Michy Batshuayi, Jeremy Doku, Leandro Trossard.




WRITTEN BY
Sportslumo Desk

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