Over and out! Italy dumped Belgium from the Euro 2020 championship but is this the end of the golden generation of Belgium? To be very hon...
|Over and out! Italy dumped Belgium from the Euro 2020 championship but is this the end of the golden generation of Belgium?|
To be very honest, it was always going to be hard for Belgium against Italy, unbeaten in 32 games since the arrival of Roberto Mancini but the firepower in the Belgian side was expected to drive them beyond the quarter finals but it wasn’t to be.
Wherever the entire Belgium squad is whenever you’re reading this, they’ll feel a sense of disappointment, this may be their last chance to impress, to deliver a silverware and banish the “nearly men” tag that has trailed them for decades now.
Ranked number one in the world, how do you explain another quarter final exit at the Euros? Like they did in the hands of Wales in 2016, Roberto Martinez, Thierry Henry and everyone in the Red Devils’ dugout must reflect on another disappointing exit from a major tournament.
Where did it go wrong for Belgium?
From the announcement of the contingent to the tournament by Martinez, one could see the thin defensive numbers as a time bomb that will detonate on the team, Martinez named just five defenders for the tournament, weird and strange to say the least.
The team was built to attack, leveraging full backs and the magic of the duo of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne but how much of fitness can you find in them? Hazard struggled throughout the season at Real Madrid while De Bruyne was in and out of the triumphant City side.
Both players missed the opening game of the tournament and you could very much see the struggles in the squad, placated by a very poor Russian side, flattering the Red Devils in a 3-0 win, but their second group game against a Danish side bleeding from the Christian Eriksen incident exposed their frailties.
There’s so much reliance on the beast upfront, Romelu Lukaku is actually up to the task, he dragged the team on his shoulders and also had support from the younger Hazard brother, Thorgan who came up with two goals to ensure the team has goals from elsewhere.
In a way, Belgium didn’t play to the potential in their squad, they were pegged back by the Italians for a prolonged period and didn’t really come to life until after Lorenzo Insigne’s sleek finish, two behind at the time but you’ll never have a filled day against the Italian defense.
What next for the Red Devils?
You really can’t tell, should they keep Martinez and his backroom staff? Should they look for someone else to guide this ageing group one last time at the next World Cup? Let’s face it, the entire back line at the Euros are in their thirties, Qatar is their last hurray, is Martinez the man to take them further?
At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Belgium only fell to the best team in the end but it could have been different if they had taken their chances against especially in the first half before a Raphael Varane header sent them crashing from the tournament.
Their conservatism and fitness challenges may have surfaced as their Achilles heels this time, they have one more opportunity, while there are emerging talents from the country, this golden generation have just one last hurray and that’s at the next World Cup in Qatar.