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2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Belgium

Belgium
Belgium have talented players all over the pitch, but Kevin De Bruyne will have to step up big time at the 2022 FIFA World Cup if this golden generation wants to achieve what no other Belgian side ever has. (Photo by Eric Vidal/REUTERS)

2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Belgium

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is less than a month away from kicking off in Qatar. Over the next 32 days, I will be previewing each team that will be taking part in the world’s most-watched event. Check out all of the team previews that have been done so far. Up next is Belgium.

The 2022 World Cup could very possibly be the final one for the golden generation of Belgium. After a semifinal appearance for “Les Diables rouges” or “The Red Devils” at the 2018 World Cup, the only way to go is up, and with a talented team, they are more than capable of making it to the 2022 World Cup Final. Since losing the UEFA Nations League 3rd place match, Belgium has lost just twice with both coming against the Netherlands. Early in 2022, Belgium was the #1 ranked team in the FIFA men’s rankings but sits at #2 ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

World Cup Appearances

After failing to qualify for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, Belgium will be making its third straight World Cup appearance in 2022.  The 2022 World Cup will be the 14th for “The Red Devils” since they debuted at the first World Cup in 1930.

Best Finish at a World Cup

In their 13 previous World Cup appearances, Belgium has made the semifinal twice and lost both times. In 1986, “The Red Devils” lost 2-0 to Argentina before losing 4-2 against France in the third-place match. Then in 2018, Belgium lost in the semifinals to France 1-0 but this time won the third-place match 2-0 against England. Their third-place finish in 2018 is the best finish for Belgium at any World Cup.

Key players

Belgium is one of the most experienced teams going to the 2022 World Cup with eight of the country’s top 10 most-capped players. This includes six players with over 100 caps for “The Red Devils,” led by defender Jan Vertonghen with 141 caps. Belgium has star players in almost every position starting with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. The Real Madrid star was named the FIFA Golden Glove winner at the 2018 World Cup. 

In the midfield, one of the world’s best players, Kevin De Bruyne, creates numerous opportunities for the forwards. Finishing off the chances created by De Bruyne will be captain Eden Hazard and Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku and Hazard are the top two scorers in Belgium’s history with 68 and 33 goals respectively. Hazard has not lived up to his hype since moving to Real Madrid having played in just six of 21 matches for the European champions this season. However, he always seems to step up to the level he once had at Chelsea when he plays for his national team. 

Manager

One of the longer-tenured national team managers is Roberto Martínez who has managed Belgium since 2016. Prior to Martínez taking the reins, “The Red Devils” had missed out on three straight Euros and two of the past three World Cups. Under his leadership, they made it to two consecutive quarter-finals at the Euros and the 2018 World Cup semifinal. 

Biggest Group Game – vs Croatia on December 1

Two of the semifinalists from the 2018 World Cup face off on the last day of play in Group F. On paper, this should be one of the matches of the group stage. This could be a massive battle in the midfield with De Bruyne of Belgium going up against Luka Modric of Croatia. These two are widely regarded as two of the best midfielders on the planet and whoever controls the midfield will win this match.

Prediction

Belgium is the #2 team in the world for a reason and they will show that in the 2022 FIFA World Cup group stage by winning all three matches against Canada, Croatia, and Morocco. Winning Group F will give “The Red Devils” an extremely tough match in the Round of 16 where they will play the runner-up of Group E which should be either Germany or Spain. As mentioned in the Germany preview, I think it will be them playing Belgium in the knockout stage and I have Belgium winning that. I also have Belgium winning in the quarterfinals before falling to France in the 2022 FIFA World Cup semifinals.

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