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Home   /   Ranked 2nd in the world, why are Belgium being snubbed for the World Cup?

“No chance, we’re too old”, those are the words of Belgium star-man Kevin De Bruyne when asked if his side can win the world cup by The Guardian.

It’s no secret that Belgium’s golden generation have been heavily criticised as an aging squad with some going as far to suggest that perhaps it is past its sell by date.

Surely pundits, players and fans are overlooking the number two men’s international side in FIFA’s world rankings? Are Belgium’s chances of World Cup glory really that slim?

If your inclined to agree, the Red Devils gutless 2-0 loss to Morocco yesterday would serve you well as an argument to support that.

Morocco took the lead just 20 minutes from full-time as Abdelhamid Sabiri’s whipped cross from a free-kick near the touchline, although it may well of been a shot, found itself going all the way, slipping under a sprawling Thibaut Courtois.

Belgium only had themselves to blame, they knew all about Morocco’s danger from freekicks. In fact the goal they conceded was almost identical to a goal disallowed late in the first-half.

They got away with one during the first-half of their match against Canada last week and rode their luck once again against Morocco after being saved by VAR.

A devastating cross from a Hakim Ziyech free-kick found its way past Courtois but Romain Saiss was seen as interfering with play in an offside position and the goal was ruled out to silence empathic Moroccan celebrations.

As Belgium chased the game late on, substitute Zakaria Aboukhlal latched on to Ziyech’s cutback to fire past a helpless Courtois in the 92nd minute and ensure the three-points coming the away of the African nation.

The array of Belgium substitutions, including a cameo appearance from their talisman Romelu Lukaku, never really looked like troubling a well drilled Morocco and their stuttering start to the 2022 World Cup continues.

Victories for Crotia and Morocco leaves them on four points in Group F with the Red Devils one behind on three.

Belgium’s next game is a winner takes all contest in which they will need all thre-points to try to progress to the round of 16.

The fate of their World Cup is truly hanging in the balance. Who could’ve predicted that?

While Belgium’s uncharacteristic start to the World Cup is likely to stump your typical football fan, pundits and betting agencies will find it no surprise.

Even prior to the World Cup, before their poor performances against Morocco and Canada, before being on the brink of elimination, the chances of Belgium winning the tournament was deemed very low.

Belgium odds to win the tournament outright was put at 22/1 by major betting sites.

Paddy Power, Sky Bet and 888 Sport collectively had Portugal, Netherlands, Argentina, Spain, England, France and Brazil all with better chances of lifting the converted World Cup trophy than Belgium.

British sports analytics company Opta shared this view, Belgium’s probability to win the tournament wasn’t even in the top five and was lower than 10%.

Surprising considering the pedigree Belgium boast.

They are the second ranked team in the World, were Bronze medallists at the previous World Cup 2018, Quarter finalists in their last major tournament and coming into tournament in good form from the newly introduced Nation League.

Stats and history isn’t everything no, but just look at the players Belgium have at their disposale.

The most inform creative midfielder in word football and deemed as one of the all time greatest to ever do it, Kevin De Bruyne.

One of the most devastating and powerful talismans the game has ever seen, Lukaku.

Debatably (although not to me) the best goalkeeper in the world currently and an incredible shot stopper, Thibaut Courtios.

Not to mention, Eden Hazard, the joint seventh highest scorer in the Premier League Leandro Trossard, veterans Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, Youri Teilemans, I could go on.

It is no secret that the players Belgium boast, while immensely talented are coming to the end of their career and the Red Devils golden generation may just be another ageing squad.

That is no reason to write them off however, just look at the tournament favourites Brazil.

Deemed outright favourites by major betting sights and with a 21.23% chance of winning the World Cup by Opta (almost twice the next highest in France, 13.12%) Brazil are seen as the clear favourites in the tournament.

It might come as a surprise for many to learn that the average age of Brazil’s squad is actually higher than Belgium, though only one side seems to be receiving criticism for it.

Brazil have the fourth eldest squad at the tournament, 27.9, which is 0.1 higher than Belgium who have the fifth eldest squad at the tournament.

So its not their history, its not their players, its not the fact their squad is ageing, so why are Belgium being snubbed so highly for the World Cup?

Personally I think the issues lie with the manager. Roberto Martinez’s outdated way of playing just doesn’t suit the talent Belgium possess.

Very few teams and even fewer international teams find success in a three-centre-back formation, especially when one of the biggest roles in the team, the wingback position, is arguably Belgium’s weakest.

The 3-5-2 formation offers little width and leaves Belgium very exposed. It also requires quick passes into the channels and through the midfield which do not suit the style of striker Belgium have.

A standard 4-3-3 would suit the Red Devils a lot better and player are much more accustomed to playing in this way.

Martinez also needs to incorporate some youth into his team, Brazil may have a higher aveerage age of players but young talents like Vinicius Junior and Lucas Paqueta are used to inject some tenacity and pace.

Amadou Onana, Trossard and Tielemans simply have to start for the Belgium’s.

Belgium’s world cup fate hangs in the balance, they must beat Croatia this Thursday, first of December, to advance.

a tough task but in doing so Belgium could reignite their World Cup hopes and prove that these old dogs still have some tricks up their sleeves. Do not count them out yet.

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May 2024