Friday, November 16, 2018

Is Belgium’s golden generation coming of age at the World Cup?

David Nugent in Editorial, World Cup 3 Jul 2018

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The current crop of Belgium players is to some ‘The Golden Generation’. The tag is down to the sheer quality within Roberto Martinez’s squad. It seems the Red Devils may finally be living up to the tag.

On Monday night, Martinez’s team came from two goals down against Japan to win 3-2 to book their spot in the World Cup quarter-finals. A Belgium comeback seemed almost inevitable, maybe due to the standard of player on the pitch for the Red Devils.

Rescued the game superbly

Japan deserves massive credit for their performance. The Blue Samurai showed tremendous spirit, determination and above all quality for much of the game. However, in the last 20 minutes, the Red Devils quality overpowered the Asian side.

Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen started the comeback with a superb header before other familiar faces Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli completed the comeback.

The third goal was an expertly crafted counter-attacking goal. Kevin De Bruyne showed great awareness to find full-back Thomas Meunier, whose cross was superbly left by Romelu Lukaku and Chadli ran in at the far post to slot home. The strike was virtually the last kick of the game and left Japan with no time to respond.

The way Martinez’s side rescued the situation displayed their determination and their fighting spirit, qualities that the team has lacked in recent years at times.

Individuals coming together as a team

On paper, Belgium have one of the best group of individuals at World Cup 2018. However, the Red Devils were not amongst the hot favourites to win the competition. The main reason for this, apart from partisan betting, is that in recent tournaments they have struggled to cobble together performances as a team.

Euro 2016 was the classic example. Everybody was waiting for the ridiculously talented Belgians to thrive in France, but instead, they suffered a weak exit at the hands of Wales in the quarter-finals.

In World Cup 2014, it was a similar story. However, in qualifying and at the World Cup so far, the Red Devils have started to look like a team, rather than just a group of random talented individuals. They are finally coming together as a team.

If a Belgian team that has the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku cannot win the World Cup, then the Red Devils are never going to win the World Cup.

Will have to win it the hard way

Belgium topping Group G ahead of England meant that their path to the World Cup final was always going to be more difficult. In fact, the Red Devils could not have hoped for a tougher quarter-final, as they will take on tournament favourites Brazil in the last eight of the competition.

Belgium are underdogs at 11/4 to beat the Selecao and progress to the semi-finals of the World Cup. The last eight clash will be a real test of this talented team and their tournament-winning credentials. The Red Devils have the quality to give any team a game and Friday’s quarter-final clash should be a fantastic watch.

Russia 2018 may be last World Cup for some of ‘The Golden Generation’. I am sure they are determined to go as far as possible in the competition. Whatever happens, though, Belgium have looked a far better team in the last year than they have at any time during the current era.

It will be hard for the Red Devils to lift the World Cup. However, as this tournament has already shown us, any team can beat any other on their day, so it may just be Belgium advancing to the semi-finals and the Selecao heading home.

Will Belgium win World Cup 2018?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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