If they qualify for the Round of 16, Belgium could meet Spain or Germany, and are supposed to meet Portugal or Brazil in the quarter-finals and in the semi-finals with France, the current champions.
Spaniard Roberto Martinez, coach of the “Red Devils” since 2016 and now defending Thierry Henry, will take the helm in what is considered the last great opportunity for the “golden generation” of Belgian football, which celebrated years without promotion. Titles: De Bruyne (30), Hazard (31), Courtois (29) and Lukaku (28).
Belgium, which has just given Brazil the top spot in the FIFA rankings they have held since 2018, the year they won third place in the World Cup Russia, are on paper the strongest contender in the group, followed by Croatia, which reached the last World Cup final but has become erratic since then .
The “Red Devils” will make their debut on November 23 against Canada led by the British John Herdman, the team against which Belgium only played a friendly match, in 1988 with the European victory.
Belgium’s second match will be held on November 27 against Morocco, which in Doha will add its sixth participation in the World Cup. The two teams had already met in the group stage of the 1994 World Cup in the United States, with the Belgians winning 1-0.
The standoff against Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic will garner special attention at home, where Belgium has a large group of Moroccan nationals.
The third match, on the first of next December, will be the most competitive, as it is the last day of qualifying, and it will face Croatia, qualifiers for the World Cup in Russia 2018, in which Belgium ranked third.
The Balkans, led by Zlako Dalic and in a midfield that includes Luka Modric (Real Madrid) and Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), have a very close record with Belgium (3 wins each and 2 draws), although their last duel was in a friendly match. June 2021 ended with the victory of the Central European countries
In addition to high profile players such as De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku or Courtois, to face the World Cup, Belgium has big-name players such as Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco (28), Leicester City midfielder Yuri Tillmans (24) and the superb. Part of the Borussia Dortmund midfield, with Axel Witsel (33), Thomas Meunier (30) and Thorgan Hazard (29).
The Red Devils know each other perfectly, have good team dynamics, and when they are fine and focused, they make up one of the most consistent teams in the world. For many of its stars, the last World Cup they face will likely be in their best years, which can provide additional motivation for the team.
But the Belgians face the World Cup final stage with two big unknowns: Eden Hazard and the defence.
Once the captain of the national team, Hazard was hardly able to participate in the national team in recent years due to injuries. The “Red Devils” captain and Real Madrid striker was killed by injuries three years ago and just underwent another operation on his ankle, but he must be released months before Doha.
He will reach the World Cup finals at the age of 32 and is eager to defend himself, having gone through a sad period at Real Madrid.
Defense is another big headache for the Belgian fans. The Red Devils were the biggest team in the last European Championship, and their defense was particularly burdened by years: Toby Alderweireld (32), Jan Vertonghen (34) and Thomas Vermaelen (35).
The latter has retired as a player and is part of Martínez’s technical team, which when he was not able to count on a perfect defensive trio, footballers such as Jason Denayer (Olympique de Lyon), Timothée Castagne (Leicester City) or Dedrick Boyata (Hertha Berlin) usually line up. .
In terms of scoring, players with great potential such as Milan winger Alexis Sailemaker, 22, are increasingly making a presence in the Belgian squad; Wing Rennes, Jeremy Duco, 19 years old; Or Club Brugge midfielder Hans Vanaken, who appears to be at his best at 29 and has earned Martinez’s trust.