Belgium has their golden generation currently, and this may be their last shot of winning the European Championships with that generation. They fell short to an upset vs Wales in the quarter-finals in the previous 2016 Championship, and this time want to go the full way. Roberto Martinez is at the helm currently and has one last European Championship shot with this squad in their prime, so the pressure is truly on.
GK- Thibaut Courtois(Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet(Club Brugge), Mats Selz(Strasbourg)
DF- Jan Vertonghen(Benfica), Toby Aldweireld(Spurs), Thomas Vermaelen(Vissel Kobe), Dedryck Boyata(Hertha Berlin), Jason Denayer(Lyon)
MF- Leander Dendoncker(Wolves), Timothy Castagne(Leicester), Thomas Meunier(Borrusia Dortmund), Kevin De Bruyne(Manchester City) Nacer Chadli(Istanbul Başakşehir), Yannick Carrasco(Atletico Madrid), Youri Tielemans(Leicester), Thorgan Hazard(Borussia Dortmund), Axel Witsel(Borussia Dortmund), Dennis Praet (Leicester City), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge)
FW- Dries Mertens(Napoli), Romelu Lukaku (Inter),Christian Benteke(Crystal Palace), Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Jeremy Doku(Rennes), Leandro Trossard(Brighton)
The Belgian national team has more than a few gems. Starting in Goal with Thibaut Courtois. The 6’6 stopper has impressed from Atletico, Chelsea, and finally Real Madrid. Whilst across the city at Atletico, the Belgium international was an ever-impressive presence in between the sticks. His shot-stopping abilities combined with his ability to pluck crosses out of the air made him a scarily complete keeper at a young age. Now at Real, he has found his feet and looks as impressive as ever.
Moving into midfield, we have Youri Tielemans. The Foxes star can play an integral part for Belgium. He’s a player that can often be found in space, and he can often help assist in creating that. Usually sitting deeper this season, this has helped play to Tielemans strengths. He’s very good at ball progression and breaking the lines. Brilliant at breaking the press, Tielemans will often resort to cross-field balls(2.44 per 90), which are as effective at breaking a press as anything. In terms of progressing the ball, Tielemans also ranks very high at 5.59 progressive passes per 90. This all helps break the press, but it also helps with breaking the lines. Two things that can win you games.
The other key player is THE key player for Belgium. Step forward, Kevin De Bruyne. De Bruyne is special, and his stats back that up. The average for passes into the box per 90 is 0.88, De Bruyne ranks in at a hilariously large 3.56 per 90. Belgium would do very well to utilize runs in behind as De Bruyne ranks in at 0.95 per 90 for through balls, the average being 0.13. These again, help to break the lines. All things that can be very useful against solid defenses that won’t give up a chance. This all comes with De Bruyne being able to score, from literally anywhere also. He comes as a multi-speared attack, all on his own, something some teams can’t get as a collective group. This all makes him the player to watch, out of the whole tournament in my opinion.
The first one that I think could come useful for Belgium is Hans Vanaken. The Club Brugge midfielder is a more offensive midfielder and will work well with De Bruyne and Tielemans. Both men rank very high for progressive passing, Vanaken ranks very high for progressive passes received at 6.45 per 90. He also has a very high touches in the attacking box per 90 stat at 3.91.
Another player to keep an eye on is Jeremy Doku. He’s a wide player and can be used up top also. He has blistering pace and has 10.91 ball carries per 90. This is absurdly high, the average being 6.1. Doku can be used for his blistering pace later on in games to help make the runs in behind to help link the passing of De Bruyne and Tielemans.
How Will Belgium Do?
I think we will see Belgium in at least the Semi-Final or Final. The sheer amount of talent in that squad alone should be enough to take them far. I think we will see a massive tournament for De Bruyne and possibly a winners medal. Overall I’m not too sure if Belgium will win, but they certainly can. It may be the last chance for them, especially with this generation.
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