The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is just a few months away, and the best football players around the world are getting hyped up for this quadrennial event. However, it’s not just about hype for the Belgian team as they’re also fully prepared to take a serious beating.
In fact, most sports analysts believe they can win this year’s World Cup.
Belgium had been the underdog in the football world for quite some time, but the recent happenings seem to dictate otherwise as they’ve acquired a handful of high-caliber players. What made things more interesting is that the average age of their star players is 30-years-old, which is pretty much the perfect time to shine.
It’s considered as the peak of one’s career, after all.
We all know how the 2014 World Cup went out for Die Roten. It was nothing short of great as they made it to the quarterfinals. It might not be that much, but they've surely improved a lot. They also finished eighth at the UEFA Euro 2016, which is another surprising achievement.
With this, it seems likely that they’re up for a good time in Russia this summer. They’ve improved a ton and are more confident to go head-to-head against the greats.
But can Roberto Martinez pave the path to victory for the team?
Experience Matters Most
This team got a whole lot of history together. Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Marouane Fellaini, Kevin Mirallas, Mousa Dembele, and Steven Defour were all present during their victories at the Euro 2008 qualifiers.
They built up strong chemistry with each other over the course of a decade, and that might be enough to land them this year's trophy. Toby Alderweireld, Eden Hazard, Axel Witsel, and Thomas Vermaelen also know how each other’s games go as they’ve played together during their ill-fated campaign in Euro 2012.
They might be short of success during that time, but they sure have learned a lot from it. From there, they can move forward and work out their lapses, and in the process, turn their weaknesses into strengths. Even Laurent Ciman and Romelu Lukaku sync well with each other, and most likely will still do this coming summer.
15 players from their previous international campaigns are confirmed to play this World Cup, which is a pretty good thing knowing that their chemistry can make them dominate the top-tier teams like Argentina, Spain, or even Brazil and Germany.
Their level of understanding could indeed prove priceless.
Top Dogs in their Prime
There’s no doubt that the Belgians are jam-packed with serious talent. After all, they’ve got Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne on their lineup.
Hazard might be the team’s captain, but he depends a lot on his chemistry with midfielder Bruyne. They’re even known as one of the best duos in the football world — another reason why Belgium should be treated seriously.
The two excel in their respective clubs and leagues. Hazard tops the scoring and assists charts of Chelsea while de Bruyne is hailed as best in assists in Europe. In addition, the two are also entering their peak as they’re aged 27 and 26 respectively.
Yes, they'll still be in peak condition when Qatar 2022 kicks in, but now is the perfect time for them to go all-out as they’re still fresh in their prime years. What makes things even more interesting for this duo is that they’re kicking off the World Cup with a game against Panama.
We know how this game will turn out. It’ll surely end in Belgium’s favor. And if Hazard and de Bruyne go full-blast on this game, then let’s expect them to go flying from there on. Yes, it might sound poetic, but that’s just what it is. After all, two is better than one, right? And having two superstars playing together will surely increase Belgium’s chances of winning the title.
Fiery Passion to Dominate
Roberto Martinez sure has some serious luck this World Cup as he’s got a team that’s fully packed with talent. However, his expertise shouldn’t be disregarded because he’ll have a great time commanding this offensive-driven team.
Martinez knows how to play with their opponent’s strategies. He does it by incorporating a fluid and dynamic offensive play that can easily convert itself to defense. It’s easy for him to do this as Lukaku and Ciman do great on both ends.
Matched with his second line of defense, and there’s no doubt they’ll fare smoothly against the well-timed plays of other teams. Radja Nainggolan, Roma’s elite midfielder, will also play for the Belgian side. Knowing that he’s brought Giallorossoi to the Champions League semi-finals, it’s safe to say that he’ll do the same to Belgium.
He’s also been the go-to-guy of di Francesco, so let’s expect him to have the same situation under Martinez’ supervision. Michy Bathuayi is also included in the final roster list. He’s brimming with 13 goals just for this year — just what Belgium needs on their record sheet this summer.
And he’s not just your regular striker as he’s also got some serious skills playing in the forward position. That will surely add variation to the Belgian lineup. It’s also what they need if ever they go head-on with an unpredictable team.
Head-to-head with the Greats
Belgium lacks experience playing in the latter stages of international tournaments. They only reached the final round once, and that was way back in 1980 during the Euro Cup. The furthest they got in the World Cup was in the fourth spot. Because of this, most remain skeptic about Die Roten Teufel’s chances of making it to the finals. However, a lot has changed since then.
The favorites are doubted by many to perform less better this year. Take for example the reigning champion, Germany. Die Mannschaft might have dominated the last World Cup and won the Confederation Cup, but they have undergone a major lineup transformation since then.
Literally speaking, they’re a very different team than they were in Brazil four years ago. Then there’s the Brazilian side who are fully invigorated to retake the top spot. Unfortunately, their battle scars from the 2014 World Cup are still clearly seen. They also underperformed in the Copa America.
France looks like fully prepared to take on the World Cup, but their recent hiccups during the qualifiers make us doubt their consistency. Even Argentina, who are considered to have a great offensive game isn’t safe from Belgium because they’re poor defensively.
Spain and Portugal also have their respective issues, both on and off-field. Knowing that Belgium has a balance between offense and defense, and have their star players in prime, it's safe to say that they’ve got the upper hand against the aforementioned teams.
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