Why Qatar 2022 could be Belgium’s swan song

15 belgium ENG

When an artist performs for the last time on a stage, it is said to be their “swan song”. It is an expression that fits very well the current national team of Belgium, which has a Golden Generation and which at the FIFA World Cup 2022 could have the last show in the current formula.

Roberto Martinez has had a star-studded squad for several years now, if he has yet to deliver and win a trophy in the major competitions. A 3rd place finish at the 2018 FIFA World Cup was the most important achievement for the Red Devils, who won in the rest almost everything they could. In fact, the victories achieved on the treadmill in various preliminary, qualification campaigns, earned Belgium the 1st place in the FIFA World Ranking for a period of approximately 4 years, between 2018 and 2022. Only Brazil and Spain have occupied this place longer time. Since March of this year, Belgium has been overtaken by Brazil, but this brings now even more motivation to the team. All the energy of Martinez’s boys is directed towards the battle in Qatar, where they know they must show their best version to fulfill their big dream.

Six players with over 100 caps
But who are the most important members who have contributed to the label Belgium’s Golden Generation?
Thibaut Courtois – 30 years old, 96 caps
Toby Alderweireld – 33 years old, 123 caps
Jan Vertonghen – 35 years, 141 caps
Thomas Meunier – 31 years old, 58 caps
Axel Witsel – 33 years old, 126 caps
Kevin de Bruyne – 31 years old, 93 caps
Yannick Carrasco – 29 years old, 59 caps
Eden Hazard – 31 years old, 122 caps
Dries Mertens – 35 years old, 106 caps
Romelu Lukaku – 29 years old, 102 caps

So six players already have over 100 caps, while two others are close to that mark. Perhaps some of them will also catch the FIFA World Cup 2026, but as a group, the final tournament in Qatar is quite possibly the last. So it is also the last opportunity for success of this Golden Generation. The quality of these players is incredible and as a team they have absolutely everything, from the goalkeeper, with Thibaut Courtois named the best in the world in the 2021/22 season, to the attack, where Kevin de Bruyne is an artist and Romelu Lukaku is always a candidate for the Golden Boot. He is in love with the goal, even desperate at times to score.

Most members of the Golden Generation participate in the Third FIFA World Cup

When Belgium returned home from the FIFA World Cup 2018, there was a real celebration in the country. The team was awaited in the street by hundreds of thousands of people. In Russia, she was defeated by the future world champion, France. At Euro 2020, the pressure on the Golden Generation increased, and at one point it bogged down, precisely in the quarter-finals, when it lost to Italy. Therefore, she was also eliminated by the future champion of the competition. But with two more years of experience to spare, Belgium should also be able to handle the pressure.
Most of the core players of the team will participate in the third edition of the FIFA World Cup. Roberto Martinez is only at his second FIFA World Cup, but he is already 6 years into his tenure and has already become the coach with the most wins in the history of the Red Devils. He knows absolutely everything there is to know about his players in the smallest detail.
„The team’s major strength is doubtless the understanding that the players have built up together, and the joy they seem to get from being part of the squad. Don’t forget that there are high expectations surrounding this team, and that can become a burden. It seems that the players, especially those who earn their living abroad, appreciate the fact that they are ambassadors for Belgian football. Players who prefer to feel the pressure and be under the spotlight so that they can achieve great things with their country are quite remarkable, really”, said Roberto Martinez in an interview for FIFA.

What else does Martinez have to work out?

With only a few days until kick-off, it remains for the coach to get his players in the best shape to turn them into champions. And it has some work to do in that way. If De Bruyne is “on fire” at Manchester City, Courtois and Lukaku have been dealing with medical problems of late. The attacker on loan from Chelsea to Inter Milan recently returned to the field, after a two-month forced break. Belgium also needs an Eden Hazard at his best. The midfielder who shone at Chelsea has been in a slump since his move to Real Madrid. The three players are essential factors in the team, a big part of Belgium’s success in recent years.
Experience at the highest level is already a big advantage. Motivation is at its highest. The unit of the group is without a crack. If the current form of the players is also where it should be, Les Diables Rouges can become world champions. Today, they are the only major team in the world from the top seven nations in the FIFA Rankings who don’t have the trophy on their record.

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