The Belgium national football team is a shadow favorite of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. “The Red Devils” brightly and confidently passed the qualifying tournament after their ahead-of-schedule win in Group H. The team showed bright attacking football and scored 35 goals at eight games.
Belgium has its rich history of performance at the greatest football forums, but two periods — the 1980s and the 2010s are worth noting individually. For the thirteenth time in its history, the Belgium national football team will take part in the World Cups. The first participation of “The Red Devils” goes back to 1930. The Belgians participated in the first three World Cups (1930, 1934 and 1938), but they lost all the games of all three tournaments.
Next, the Belgians took part in the main tournament in 1954. In that World Cup they left the tournament on the first stage again, but they at least managed to make an honorable draw against the English national team. The following participation of Belgium in the World Cup goes to 1970. In the Mexico tournament “The Red Devils” were not able to overcome the group stage again, but they won their first victory in the World Cups — El Salvador was beaten with the score 3:0. Thus, Belgium won its first Mundial victory only on its fifth World Cup.
The sixth participation of Belgium took place in 1982. Since this time, the Belgian football has enjoyed a boom. The Belgium national football team participated in six World Cups in a row, and only once they couldn't overcome the group stage (in 1998).
The highest performance of the Belgium national football team was in the 1986 World Cup Mexico. Hardly overcoming the group stage, leaving the round of last 16 only from the third position, the Belgians brilliantly acted in play-offs where they beat the USSR and Spain national football teams. Only the Argentina national football team, the future winner of the tournament, with the greatest Maradona could win the match against Belgium in the semi-final. Jan Ceulemans, one of the best world players of the middle 1980s, shone in the team.
Three times the Belgium national football team reached the round of last 16 in the World Cups. It took place in 1990, 1994 and 2002. In 2014, Belgium secured its first berth at the World Cup in 12 years. It was an absolutely new team with average age not over 25 years. Four years later, practically the same players go to Russia as the tournament favorites. But already then in 2014, the new generation of the Belgian footballers managed to reach the eight strongest teams of the world. On their way, the Belgians won three games at the group stage — against Russia, South Korea and Algeria, then in the round of last 16, within extra time, they put away the USA national football team — 2:1.
In the UEFA European Championships, the Belgium national football team took part five times and became the prize-winner twice. In 1972, in the home tournament, the Belgians lost in the semi-final to the Germany, European Championship Winner, and in the match for the 3rd place they beat the USSR.
Eight years later, the Belgium team reached the final and won the first place in the most complex group with the teams of Italy, England and Spain. In the tournament final, Belgium was beaten by Germany again.
The Belgians` squad is one of the strongest among the world national teams. Already the third large tournament in a row the Belgian talented youth are considered contenders for medals, however, the Belgium national football team has achieved no success yet. The tournament in Russia can become the last chance for a number of the Belgian players from the best European clubs for solid achievements together with their national team.
Most players of the Belgium national football team represent the leading clubs of England and Italy. The leader and the captain is Eden Hazard, the skilled creative midfielder of Chelsea, who is considered one of the strongest players is the position. The Hazard`s partner in half-backs of the Belgium national football team Kevin De Bruyne is the leader of Manchester City. Two football players — the top scorer of the national team Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini represent the other super-club from Manchester in the Belgium national football team. Three football players — the defenders Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld and also the midfielder Moussa Dembele are regularly called from the Tottenham London to the national team. The goalkeeper of the Belgium national football team Thibaut Courtois deservedly is among the best world goalkeepers. A weak point of the Belgium national football team is traditionally considered the defense.
Belgium will become one of the main favorites of the World Cup, however, the Head Coach of the team is highly questionable. The previous mentor of the Belgium national football team Marc Wilmots worked two cycles and managed to get with his star team only to the quarterfinal of the World Cup and European Championship. The current mentor of the Belgians Roberto Martinez, invited to take place of Wilmots. Roberto, was not a bad coach during the first season of his work in the Everton, but here the coach`s achievements stop. The main point whether the young mentor is able to understand the star players and to share his ideas? Or the Royal Belgian Football Association should have chosen the national team coach from among the top coaches? We will find out it in June.