What was the reason for Belgium’s downfall at the World Cup? The Red Devils were one of the favorites to make it far in this World Cup, however after disappointing performances during their group stage saw the nation kicked out of the World Cup which shocked the world. But what was the cause of Belgium’s downfall?
Lack of Chemistry
Belgium’s golden age began at the 2014 World Cup with a successful run that saw them make the quarterfinals that year. This was the start of what could be a very special run for Belgium with Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, and Thibault Courtois all sprouting on the scene the same year. They were also accompanied by Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens, who began the rise of the Red Devils together. However, this group of players diminished in chemistry after the 2018 World Cup.
In Russia, Belgium had an incredible run that saw them finish in third place. Since then, they failed to make a similar run during the Euro Cup in 2020. Now with Belgium’s final chance to win a trophy with its golden age, their chemistry has altered and weakened. Their top player De Bruyne continued to break this chemistry after saying Belgium cannot win the World Cup because they are “too old”.
This caused a blowout between Hazard, De Bruyne, and Jan Vertonghen following their 2-0 loss to Morocco. Belgium’s downfall continued as they could not recover from this as failed to score against Croatia to eliminate them from the World Cup. There was not the same spark or willingness to play from the team compared to the 2018 team. The lack of chemistry was known after it was reported that most of the Belgium players took separate flights after the conclusion of their World Cup.
Drop of Form from Players
The concerns for Belgium coming into the World Cup were the form of its star players and how they were going to perform. Eden Hazard was at a point Belgium’s best player and one of the best players in the world at Chelsea. He averaged 31 starts in the Premier League and averaged about 15 goals a season. Since moving to Real Madrid, he has not started more than 15 games a season and has only scored a total of six goals in three years in Madrid.
Injuries have taken over the Belgium midfielder, dropping his form in recent years. This goes the same for Lukaku. He was in his from during his time at Everton, Manchester United, and his first stint at Inter Milan. A struggling year at Chelsea last season along with injuries dropped his form heading to the World Cup, where he struggled to get a goal against Croatia after five failed shots missing the net.
Dries Mertens also left Napoli to play for Turkish side Galatasaray, who has dropped form in recent years. Their only top player right now is De Bruyne, who came in third in the Ballon D’or voting. They struggled during the match against Canada with form and consistency. Despite winning, they were outplayed by the Canadians, who failed to get the point during the tournament. One of the other causes for Belgium’s downfall was the lack of form of their star players, who were nowhere to be found this World Cup.
Group F Turned Out to be The Hardest Group in the Tournament
Belgium had the bad luck to end up in the hardest group in Qatar. Two teams from Group F are in the semifinals with Croatia and Morocco. Croatia continued their World Cup dominance from four years ago with wins against Japan and the tournament favorites Brazil. Morocco, on the other hand, has been the Cinderella story of this World Cup.
They came out first in the group after being both Belgium and Canada and tying against Croatia. Morocco continued to shock the world after beating both Spain and Portugal. This makes them the first African country to make it to the semifinals of the World Cup. Rarely do two teams from the same group make the semifinals, with a chance of both meeting in the finals.
What is the Future for Belgium?
Belgium will enter a period of rebuilding with Roberto Martinez stepping down as head coach after six years in charge. Hazard also announced he will be retiring from the national team after 14 years. They had the fifth oldest squad at the World Cup with an average age of 27.8. The future now moving forward is unknown for the Red Devils.
The golden age failed to win a trophy, making this age a disappointment. However, it is a step in the right direction for the tiny nation. They will continue to prepare for the future and for future tournaments without the golden age of players anymore.
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