Can Belgium Win The 2022 World Cup?
The FIFA men’s World Cup trophy is once again up for grabs in the faraway Middle East, Qatar, after France’s triumph in Russia four years ago.
The stakes are as high as ever as the Mundial draws nearer every day, with the established nations tipped by the bookmakers as the favorites to triumph in Qatar.
With 32 countries in total set to compete for the most coveted football prize on the grandest stage, the question is, can Belgium upset the footballing world and go ahead to achieve success in Qatar?
Belgium’s World Cup History & Previous Finishes
Apart from Croatia and the Netherlands, the Red Devils are perhaps one of the finest footballing nations never to have won arguably the greatest football trophy on the grandest stage.
Belgium achieving a semi-final finish all the way back in 1986 can be said to be some sort of achievement for the Red Devils due to how lowly they were ranked back then heading into the Mundial at Mexico.
The Red Devils, who struck gold at the 1920 Olympics, failed to build on their unprecedented achievement at the Olympics while heading into the first editions of the World Cup held between 1930 and 1970, and they were unable to get past the first round in both tournaments.
However, they did enjoy better times and qualified for each installment of the World Cup between 1982 and 2002, as they surprisingly produced their best performance in 1986 when they finished fourth after Argentina beat them in the semi-finals.
While the world was prepping up for the editions in 2006 and 2010 in South Africa, the Red Devils couldn’t qualify for the showpiece before they finally made a return in 2014, where they dazzled until their quarter-final ouster.
The Red Devils, led by Marc Wilmot, reached the quarter-finals in 2014 before they were sent packing by ‘La Albiceleste’ Argentina, in a year where they were close to achieving their 1986 semi-finals feat, having been knocked out in the round of 16 five times, twice in the 1930s, 1990, 1994 and 2002.
Belgium’s best World Cup finish was a third-place finish in Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup, which may have been viewed as a huge disappointment because of the avalanche of stars they paraded at the time.
However, with the 2022 edition set to commence in a few days, can Belgium once again punch above their weight as they did in 2018? Can Belgium win the World Cup in 2022?
Belgium’s Strengths & Weaknesses Heading Into The World Cup
In 13 attempts, Belgium has never won the World Cup, and the bookmakers didn’t rank them amongst the biggest favorites to triumph in Qatar despite their third-place feat in Russia in 2018.
Belgium have produced one of the finest golden generations in football recently, but they haven’t yet managed to make their potential count on the grandest of the stage like the FIFA World Cup.
Having highlighted their World Cup history and previous finishes above, let’s look closely at the Red Devils’ strengths and weaknesses as they head into the Mundial in a few days.
During Belgium’s World Cup qualifiers, they won six matches and drew two, finishing unbeaten in their group ahead of Wales and the Czech Republic.
They also scored a whopping 25 goals in eight games, an average of 3 goals per game, an extraordinary feat that further gives credence to their lethal goal-scoring prowess.
Looking at their form during qualifiers as one of the major strengths of the team going into the World Cup, another interesting strength of the team lies in their goalkeeping and midfield departments.
With Thibaut Courtois unarguably the best goalie in world football presently in-between the sticks and Kevin De Bruyne dictating play from the middle of the park for Belgium, any team that wants to go toe-to-toe with them must bring its A-game to the fore.
The experience, creativity, and strength of players like Eden Hazard, Axel Witsel, and Youri Tielemans should also come in handy for the Red Devils against topsides in Qatar.
While experience can be said to be a huge factor for an elite team going into a major tournament like the World Cup, the team’s weaknesses are solely in the defensive department because some of their defenders are no longer amongst the quickest players.
Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld are 35 and 33 respectively. With there age, they may not be able to cope with pacy forwards.
However, despite the weakness in their defensive third, one thing that should get them running once the tournament starts is their midfield and attack, which is full of depth for Roberto Martinez to call upon.
Although their qualifying route was a brilliant one, that can’t be said of their recent form of late, particularly in the Nations League, where their performances were poor.
However, with the avalanche of stars in the team, they should be able to patch up their weaknesses and capitalize on their strengths at the World Cup.
Belgium’s Starman Going Into The World Cup
Kevin De Bruyne:
Belgium, without mincing words, can boast of world-class players who can flex muscles with the finest of talents in world football presently, including brilliant players like Hazard, Lukaku, Courtois, and Kevin De Bruyne.
Although the above statement is a fact about their depth in quality, there’s only one player to keep an eye on during the World Cup in Qatar, and that is Manchester City’s inform midfielder Kevin De Bruyne. The 31-year-old is one of the best midfielders in the world.
Looking at Belgium’s players playing in Europe’s top-flight league Kevin De Bruyne has been head and shoulders above the rest in recent years with his consistent performances both for City and Belgium.
The fact that he came third behind winner Karim Benzema and second place Sadio Mane during the Ballon d’Or award night in France further gives credence to why he is their talisman going into the Mundial.
Other top players that Belgium have is the best goalkeepers in the world right, Thibaut Courtois. The Real Madrid goalkeeper has been a crucial player for the team.
Belgium’s World Cup Analysis: Group (F)
The Red Devils and Croatia are no doubt the main attraction of Group F, which also includes Morocco and Canada.
Their tie against 2018 edition finalist Croatia is undoubtedly one of the mouthwatering fixture fans should be on the lookout for once the tournament starts.
Croatia’s loss to France in the 2018 World Cup final says much about their quality, while Canada are heading into their first championship in 36 years, and Morocco are hoping to make an impact as one of the African representatives in Qatar, having last played Belgium in a competitive game at the 1994 World Cup.
With few days to go, it would be pretty interesting to see if Belgium will make it out of their group or not, with teams like Croatia, Morocco, and Canada getting ready to upset the Red Devils.
Belgium’s Notable Absentee
Early this month, it was confirmed that AC Milan’s midfielder Alexis Saelemaekers will be out for six to eight weeks due to a knee injury and will most likely miss the World Cup in Qatar.
Side note, Belgium has one of the best 2022 FIFA World Cup kits.