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Belgium’s Squad for FIFA World Cup 2022 & Team Profile

Roberto Martinez announced the final 26-man squad list of Belgium for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. In this article, check out the Belgium FIFA World Cup 2022 squad, fixtures, lineups and team analysis.

MB
Last updated: 17.11.2022
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Roberto Martinez announced the final 26-man squad list of Belgium for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar before FIFA’s deadline day. This will be the last chance for the golden generation to win a major title for the nation. This World Cup will be the fifth major competition for some of the squad members still waiting to quench their thirst for glory on the big stage. Belgium are also entering a tournament not being the number one ranked nation for the first time since they claim the spot.

 

History

Belgium have appeared in the finals tournament of the FIFA World Cup on 14 occasions, the first being at the first FIFA World Cup in 1930. However, their notable period in World Cup history only came in the last two editions of the tournament with a talented crop of players giving hope to the nation and a manager-technical director in Roberto Martinez. After failing to enter the quarterfinals in the last 12 attempts, the Red Devils secured a last-eight berth in the 2014 edition hosted by Brazil. They came first in a group containing Algeria, Russia and South Korea, also forced to get a late winner in the 2-1 victory against the USA in an incredible match where every goal was scored in extra-time. Argentina ended their journey in the next round with a 1-0 win but it was something Belgium built on in the next edition reaching the semifinals of the tournament.

 

Last Tournament  

Roberto Martinez guided his team to an admirably third-place finish in 2018 World Cup although it was another missed opportunity to win silverware for this golden generation. Belgium will argue this is the best performance they had in four major competitions participated in since the 2014 World Cup. The Red Devils came up top in a group alongside England whom they beat twice in the tournament, the last one being the bronze final. They had a scare against Japan in the last 16 stages going down by two goals before the hour-mark before making a stunning comeback to win 3-2 at stoppage time. The most remarkable result of all came in the quarterfinal when they eliminated competition powerhouse and favorites Brazil through a Kevin De Bruyne goal in the knockouts again to progress 2-1. The eventual winner France was too much for this side in the final four as they cannot get past the defense of Les Bleus in the 1-0 defeat.      

 

Qualification

Belgium had few barriers in their qualifying as they dominated their group containing Wales, Czechia Republic, Estonia and Belarus. Roberto Martinez’s side stayed unbeaten over eight games winning six of them and scoring 25 goals in total. They conceded only six in this period. The Red Devils finished at first with 20 points and five points clear of Wales who gained the playoff spots. Romelu Lukaku got the most goals for Belgium with five whereas Hans Vanaken, not selected for the World Cup squad, delivered four assists.

 

Preparation for World Cup

The Nations League campaign was not at all ideal for Belgium to prepare for the World Cup in Qatar. Grouped with Netherlands, Wales and Poland, the Red Devils won two headers against the Pols and another one against the Dragons. However, drawing the other game against Rob Page’s men and losing twice to the Dutch cost them a place in the semifinals the next year. Belgium managed to collect only 10 points from six games finishing six behind toppers Netherlands and only three points better than third-placed Poland. The rollercoaster ride will not be suitable for Roberto Martinez but they have one last pre-World Cup friendly against Egypt on 18th November to warm them up before their tournament unfolds next Thursday.    

        

Belgium 2022 World Cup Squad

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Real madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Koen Casteels (VfL Wolfsburg)

Defenders: Jan Vertonghen (Anderlecht), Toby Alderweireld (Royal Antwerp), Leander Dendoncker (Aston Villa), Zeno Debast (Anderlecht), Arthur Theate (Rennes), Wout Faes (Anderlecht)

Midfielders: Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Axel Witsel (Atletico Madrid), Youri Tielemans (Leicester), Amadou Onana (Everton), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Timothy Castagne (Leicester City), Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan), Michy Batshuayi (Fenerbahce), Lois Openda (Lens), Charles De Ketelaere (AC Milan), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Jeremy Doku (Rennes), Dries Mertens (Galatasaray), Leandro Trossard (Brighton)

 

Coach: Roberto Martinez


Strength

The golden generation of Belgium is entering a period of having the experience of top competitions going through ups and downs. The core of the team has been the same with consistency in picking for the squad, keeping the bond intact. Manager Roberto Martinez is serving six years with the team with few changes in his system helping the players settle in every time. They have an experienced squad, with 11 of the 26 players 30 and above. Along with that, there were some exciting upcoming talents hoping to make a mark in the tournament mainly on the forward line which looks glossy.        

  

Weakness

Their defense remains the drawback of the side as they are ageing rapidly over other positions. The lack of pace could cost them against nations with speedy attackers, an example being the 4-1 loss to the Netherlands in the Nations League earlier this year. Considering Belgium like to press with a high defensive line and Martinez is unlikely to shift from it, this is a worry. Also, the golden generation is still missing the mentality to get the edge over top opposition in knockouts. Despite having characters like Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne, they have not done the work in crucial stages for Belgium to lift silverware.

  

Star Player: Kevin De Bruyne

Now in his fifth major competition with Belgium, Kevin De Bruyne will wish to hand Red Devils a much-wanted title in their history finally. When Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard have fallen from their grace, De Bruyne has maintained his competitive nature for his country and club Manchester City. Even not at his best he can create moments of genius on the pitch that is hard to prevent. The pressure is on the 31-year-old even more to offer his creative vision for the team with the other two not looking at their best. Eden Hazard’s disastrous spell at Real Madrid is not ending whereas Romelu Lukaku’s poor stay at Chelsea and injury return to Inter have not done him any favor after sparkling seasons at San Siro. In contrast, De Bruyne kept on delivering and broke records at City keeping his form intact ahead of the tournament in Qatar.

   

How will Belgium Lineup at the World Cup?

Roberto Martinez will stick to his 3-4-2-1 formation irrespective of opposition or situations in the game to try to bring the best out of this team. Belgium’s number one Thibaut Courtois is only a few players able to keep the stand in terms of consistency for the Red Devils in major competitions. Turned into the man he wanted to be at Real Madrid, the golden glove winner in the 2018 World Cup will again don the undisputed glove of excellence for another edition. The evergreen defensive duo Vertonghen and Alderweireld, who has been alongside each other in 362 games for club and country, will be the members of the back three again. Partnering with them is Wout Faes in excellent form with his club Leicester City and among the few young talented defenders slowly starting to come into the national team mix. Romelu Lukaku could start up front if he is able to shake off his injury concerns. His big competition experience will be required even if he is not in scoring form. The same goes for Eden Hazard whose quality in any sense cannot be doubted. Otherwise, there are able candidates in Michy Batshuayi and Leandro Trossard to do the job. The Fenerbache striker has banged goals for fun for Belgium in the Nations League earlier this year while Trossard is on the cusp of having the best season in a Brighton shirt.   


Opponents and Fixtures

Belgium vs Canada - 24 November 2022, Ahmed bin Ali Stadium (12:30 AM)

Belgium vs Morocco - 27 November 2022, Al Thumama Stadium (6:30 PM)

Croatia vs Belgium - 1 December 2022, Ahmed bin Ali Stadium (8:30 PM)

 

Although they are favorites to qualify, Belgium are in a tricky group consisting of last edition’s finalists Croatia, a talented Canada side playing in the World Cup after 36 years and a Morocco team that has given edgy moments to the opposition. The Red Devils cannot take any fixture as easy at the moment because of the talent and vibrancy of other sides in this group. They open their 2022 World campaign against the Les Rouges on 24th November in a bid to open their accounts as well before facing the African nation on 27th November. Belgium should wrap up qualification ahead of the group leaders deciding game against Croatia whose path will also be the same.

 

Stance on Qatar

Belgium have joined other federations to display their solidarity against the human rights abuses in Qatar. Like the Netherlands, Red Devils walked out on the pitch wearing the message ‘Football Support Change’ before the World Cup qualifier against Belarus in March 2021. The Belgian FA has also demanded stronger action to be taken to improve the working conditions of the migrant workers and put an end to the repeated abuse they suffer. Roberto Martinez’s side will also join England and other countries in the One Love campaign with the captain wearing a rainbow-coloured armband in protest of the homosexuality laws in the country.   

 

Prediction

Time is running out for Roberto Martinez and his golden generation Belgium squad to grab the prize that will honor their legacy. Whether they will smile the last in Qatar is a very difficult say at the moment. The squad entering its 30 age bracket and some have even elapsed it so this is a do-or-die occasion for them. The Red Devils have also not found ideal talents in every position yet and it will take to time to replace the present side in upcoming tournaments. Considering all matters, another bowing out from the knockouts is likely but even without a trophy, this team has got everyone talking. 

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