To win major international tournaments, you must have top, outstanding superstars with talent big enough to maintain dominance and rule Europe. Can the same be said for Belgium?
One year on after the original European Championships where supposed to take place in June 2020 due to Coronavirus, 24 teams across the continent battle it out to crowned European Champions. The Belgium national team is filled with some world-class, devastating and outstanding players from goalkeeper right the way through to the forward line, no position left empty. But being widely regarded as the so-called “Golden Generation” begs the question why Belgium have been able to win a major European trophy ever and if 2021 can be their year?
The current Belgium 26-man squad for the upcoming Euros tournament – which starts this Friday – is stacked with some familiar faces: Thibaut Courtois, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Thorgan Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens plus many more amazing talents.
If you rewind back five years to the 2016 Belgium Euros squad, 15 members of that Red Devils team are still present for the 2021 edition – not including the new breed presently – this month. That in itself tells me there’s always been long-lasting life in Belgium but why hasn’t this squad won a European or World trophy?
Well, the first thing worth mentioning is that Belgium have NEVER won a major international trophy – no European Championship and no World Cup – with generally amazing players produced they just have not been able to get their hands on the elusive silverware.
If I said it’s 41 years since Belgium last played in an international final, would you have believed me? Indeed, the 1980 European Championship final was the Red Devils first and only final they played in. They lost 2-1 to West Germany as Horst Hrubesch got both goals. However, the standout about the final was, indeed, the Belgium squad quality it had with names like: Eric Gerets, Rene Vandereycken, Erwin Vandenbergh and midfielder Jan Ceulemans. This players seen as Belgiums first “golden generation” the ones who could win the country’s first international trophy but it never came to fulfilment.
The current Belgium squad, managed by Spaniard Roberto Martinez since the 2018 World Cup, have never reached a major final, let alone win one but they are the No.1 ranked team in the world and have been since September that year.
The Red Devils most recent finish to a European Championships came in 2016 , where they reached the quarter finals against Wales, an opportunity for Belgium to go all the way, but lost 3-1.
With the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Jan Vertonghen and Romelu Lukaku still around with some exciting new bloods like Yuri Tielemens, Timothy Castange, Thorgan Hazard and Michy Batshuayi can Belgium’s “Golden Generation” take the Euro 2020 tournament by storm and win their first story or will it slip away from them again?
Belgium, who are in group B, begin their campaign on June 12 when they face Russia on matchday one at the St Petersburg Stadium. The Red Devils also play Denmark before finishing the group with Finland in their final game on June 21.
featured image credit sky sports