Roberto Martinez’s Belgium are set to head to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup in the knowledge that their best chance to triumph on international football’s biggest stage may already have come and gone.
The Red Devils secured a national record third-placed finish last time out, downing England 2-0 in their first World Cup play-off clash for over 30 years. Their historic feat, though, was nevertheless viewed as something of a disappointment across the country, amid the collective belief that a first-ever international title was within touching distance.
The aptly labelled ‘golden generation’ of talent to have led the charge in Russia, in turn, is now considered by most to be past its sell by date, with the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Eden Hazard no longer the players they once were.
Nevertheless, Belgium proved once more en route to qualification for this year’s winter showpiece that they should not be counted out just yet.
Six wins and a pair of draws across eight outings proved enough for table-topping status, with a 6-1 Nations League drubbing of Poland back in June another timely reminder of the explosive attacking potential still possessed in boss Martinez’s ranks.
Any team boasting the world-class talents of Thibaut Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne, fronted by a fully fit and firing Romelu Lukaku, simply cannot be overlooked.
Belgium World Cup 2022 Tips
Read the latest Belgium odds ahead of the World Cup, including their odds to win the tournament, odds to claim the golden boot, 101 Great Goals’ top tip and more 2022 World Cup predictions and tips.
Belgium World Cup Predictions
They may be past their best, but this Belgium still boasts world class and dangerous players across the pitch, including Kevin de Bruyne - recently named as the second best player in the world. With Lukaku at the peak of his powers as well, they pose a significant threat to anyone on their day, it just remains to be seen whether they have the nous to navigate their way through.
Belgium Golden Boot Prediction
Lukaku may not have had the success he would have wanted over the last year or so on the club scene, but he remains a very dangerous striker with a proven track record. With 68 goals in 102 appearances prior to the World Cup, he is one of the leading marksmen and with Kevin De Bruyne playing behind him, is very capable of competing for the golden boot.
Despite what feels like a never-ending stream of criticism, and frequent links with the exit door, Roberto Martinez will be the man to lead Belgium into their latest World Cup appearance later this year.
The ex-Everton boss has never been much of a fan favourite amongst the Red Devils faithful, largely owing to a tactical style which gives rise to a limiting effect on some of his most gifted players.
And yet, Martinez represents a steady and tested quantity on the touchline for Belgium, long acquainted with the best the country has to offer when it comes to personnel, and no doubt quietly confident in his chances of pushing towards the latter rounds of a competition set to kick into gear with no real favourite in place.
Expect the experienced tactician to stick with his trademark three-at-the-back system in Qatar, with the likes of Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Timothy Castagne set to play key roles as wing-backs, too.
Total appearances: 13
First qualification: 1930
Most recent: 2018
Best achievement: Third place (2018)
World Ranking: 2
Overall record: P48, W20, D9, L19
Kevin De Bruyne
If Belgium are to enjoy a successful 2022 World Cup, then star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne will likely prove the catalyst as to why.
Thibaut Courtois remains one of the best on the planet when it comes to keeping goals out, Romelu Lukaku’s record in front of goal at international level speaks for itself, whilst Eden Hazard, Youri Tielemans and Yannick Carrasco all remain more than capable of producing at the top level of the game.
And yet, without De Bruyne, all of these facts become moot.
The Manchester City standout is the man who makes his country tick, and will be required to be at the very peak of his powers if Martinez’s troops are to stand any chance of a deep tournament run.
Fan expectation for Belgium in the World Cup
Sacha Tavolieri. Belgian football journalist said of Belgium’s hopes and expectations: “First of all, I think that Belgium have some big troubles in the team. We don’t know about the real level of our captain Eden Hazard, and our defence is absolutely not ready because they are becoming older and older.
“We still have the same problem with no (suitable) left-backs in our XI and Roberto Martinez does not question himself enough to help the team make progress. There is too much conservatism in his philosophy of football and that’s (the main reason) why I think Belgium won’t win the World Cup.
“As usual, we will go to the quarter-finals and be eliminated at this stage.”
101′s Belgium World Cup Tip
Despite sitting behind only Brazil in the FIFA world rankings, Belgium, at present, are viewed as just 9th favourites to emerge triumphant from this year’s fast-approaching Qatar showpiece.
And, in truth, it is not all that difficult to see why.
Our 101 pre-tournament prediction sees the Red Devils crashing out at the quarter-final stage. Though game-changing talent remains at the call of Roberto Martinez, this side is no longer the feared force of years gone by.
They should go on to emerge from a Group F table containing the trio of Croatia, Canada and Morocco, but Brazil, Argentina, England, Spain and France just a taster of the nations boasting superior talent at present, a last-8 finish should be viewed as both realistic and acceptable for Belgium this winter.
Belgium stats, fixtures and results
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