Belgium will address the Qatar World Cup 2022 as one of the candidate teams to win the World Cup. The group led by Roberto Martinez will play his third consecutive World Cup, the second under the guidance of the Spaniard and has a squad at the height of the best. The big goal will be, as in 2018, to play all 7 games. Even if the idea, this time, is to play the grand finale and win the Cup that everyone wants.
However, the path doesn’t seem to be easy. Because several footballers who had come to Russia in their full glory have declined today. It is the case of Danger of Eden (31), Silver ball at previous World Cups, who hasn’t stopped suffering injuries since joining Real Madrid in mid-2019.
Romelu Lukaku (29), top scorer in 2019 with 4 goals, is not in his best form this season even after returning to Inter after a bad spell at Chelsea, where he had problems with German manager Thomas Tuchel. To make matters worse, his physical discomfort turned into a powerful headache in the countdown to Qatar.
It will be necessary to see if the notable Kevin De Bruyne (31), untouchable piece in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, and the huge Thibaut Courtois (30), one of the best goalkeepers in the world, manages to put the leader’s backpack for Belgium to take the big leap.
the Spanish guru
Martínez, 49, has been at the helm of the team since 2016 and is the guru of what is arguably the best generation in the history of the European team. Since his arrival he has directed 74 games and obtained 78.3% of the points played. In addition, he took third place in Russia 2018 and placed the team at the top of the FIFA rankings for nearly four years.
His coaching career was forged in clubs in England. He made his debut at Swansea -which plays in the third category- in the 2006/2007 season and for the following season he obtained promotion with the Welsh club. In the league he had an acceptable campaign for eighth place and that campaign earned him the leap to a Premier League team.
It was Wigan who hired him. He was there from the 2009/2010 season to 2012/2013 where he alternated very good and very bad. Although it led to an unwanted relegation in its final season, the Manchester suburban side struck the blow and were crowned FA Cup champion after surprising Manchester City. An antecedent very similar to that of the Patronage.
Everton was his next stop and he proved once again up to the task. In his first year, he finished fifth in the standings and qualified the Toffees for the UEFA Europa League. His subsequent seasons were not at the level of his first, but he moved around in the middle of the standings without risking relegation.
In 2016 he was hired by Belgium for the 2018 World Cup. Martínez’s trademark is his tactical system, as he ventures into an atypical 3-4-3 that has undoubtedly given him results. In fact, according to that scheme, he took third place in Russia.
The coach has been able to live with figures of the stature of De Bruyne, Hazard, Courtois and Lukaku, among others. For Qatar, however, he has included several young promises such as Saelemaekers, Openda or De Ketelaere, who, added to the great figures and the hand of the coach, will try to make sure that the candidate’s suit does not fit too much.
De Bruyne, the architect of football
When it comes to a figure, Belgium has a player who is comfortably in the top 5 of the best in the world. Without a doubt, De Bruyne is one of the best players on the scene today and has what it takes to back him up. The 31-year-old midfielder spent seven seasons at Manchester City competing at the highest level.
De Bruyne is the closest thing to what could be described as a complete midfielder. He is in control of the ball, a privileged view of the game, he is one of the best passers-by today and he is seasoned in his game when it comes to recovering the ball. All of this encompasses him as a player that any team would like to have.
His development was influenced by his arrival at City and Pep Guardiola was instrumental in his becoming a star. Prior to his arrival at the citizens, who paid 74 million euros for his pass, took a big step through German Wolfsburg who raised his bar. It was after his first and unsuccessful Premier League stint that he joined Chelsea after a promising appearance at KAA Gent in Belgium. In the London team he didn’t have many chances and his stage was forgotten.
At the national level, he was already in Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018, where the team reached the quarter-finals and the semi-finals respectively. In total he has played 91 games with 23 goals and 46 assists, numbers that give meaning to the importance he has in the team.
At 31, it could be the last World Cup that finds him fully and that is why he will try to be the lead on the pitch. Among his functions of him, he will be responsible for being the lord and master of the generation of games, be an offensive solution and empower his teammates in each of his interventions. The responsibilities seem exaggerated, but they are consistent demands for a player who has shown his qualities on many occasions.
Russia 2018, the recent and historical context
Only four years ago, the European team achieved what would have been the best participation in the World Cup in its history, surpassing the fourth place in Mexico 1986. The third place, after beating England in St. Petersburg, was a recognition of the the work of his coach and a pampering of the talent of his players who fought tooth and nail to reach that position.
Belgium joined group G along with England, Tunisia and Panama. Without major drawbacks, he became the leader with an ideal score and a performance that began to thrill his fans. Due to his performance, he had to face the second group H – Japan. On paper it was an accessible match, but they almost had a surprise. The match began with a 2-0 victory for the Japanese until the 70th minute with goals from Haraguchi and Inui. However, something epic happened. At 70 Jan Vertonghen discounts and at 74 it is Marouane Fellaini who equalizes. At 94 ‘the miracle happened with Nacer Chadli, who took advantage of an unprecedented counterattack and was the hero of the standings.
In the quarter-finals the rival was Brazil. Due to the history and the current situation at the time, it was a very complicated match and the fear of ending up in that round like against Argentina in 2014 was in the air. Quickly, with a goal from Fernandinho to the detriment, the scoring opened and on 31st Kevin De Bruyne extended the lead. Just to add suspense, Renato Augusto served 15 minutes from the end.
The dream would come to the semi-finals when France, who would become world champions, beat the Belgian side 1-0 with a goal from Samuel Umtiti. For the second time in its history, it was on the verge of playing a World Cup final. However, in 2018 they managed to take third place after beating England 2-0 and achieved their best performance.