Belgium is currently the NO.1 ranked team in FIFA World rankings. Belgium has been the highest-ranked team for the last three years. Consistency and Stability in the squad are essential for a team to remain on the top continuously. We will analyse why Belgium is considered a club country and how they maintain and build the team around the core of their squad.
Roberto Martínez became Belgium National Team’s Manager in 2016. He is the most successful manager in Belgium’s history in statistical terms. He has managed 60 games till now with 2.5 points per game and a 78.3-win percentage.
He has coached Belgium in 2 big tournaments-World Cup 2018 and Euro 2020. Belgium won the bronze medal at the World Cup and are currently in the quarter-finals of the Euro. Belgians have huge expectations from him to win a major tournament with Belgium’s golden generation.
Under Roberto Martínez, Belgium has mostly played with a combination of 3-4-2-1 and 3-4-3. It is a fluid system with two wing-backs who come back on defence to form a back 5 when they play defensively. The wing-backs are seen as more of an attacking threat against weaker opposition or when the team is seeking a goal.
They play with a 3-man defence to stop the other teams from catching them on the counter-attack and compensate for the lack of pace among the centre backs. They also have a world-class and reliable goalkeeper in Thibaut Courtois to support the back-line.
This formation helps the team to accumulate more bodies in the middle of the park and recover the ball back quickly. The 3 forwards are protected by the midfield duo. Axel Witsel, Tielemans or Dendoncker are played in the midfield to intercept the play and pass the ball to the creative players.
The leading creative players in the team are Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Mertens. They have one of the best strikers in the world, Romelu Lukaku leading the line up-front. Lukaku is the all-time top scorer for Belgium with 63 goals.
The whole squad has been well drilled and familiarized with this system for the last few years.
(Belgium’s line-up against Portugal in their previous match)
CORE OF THE SQUAD
Belgium has one of the most experienced groups of players with the likes of Vertonghen, Witsel, Alderweireld and Mertens. The top-5 most capped players in Belgium’s history are still part of the squad that displays the experience in the team. Belgium’s Euro 2020 squad has an average age of 29 years, behind Sweden who has the oldest squad in Euros. Belgium’s team has an average cap of 50 matches which the highest in the tournament.
It is not usual for a country to keep so many players in the squad for a long time especially for a country like Belgium with an abundance of brilliant footballers. We have usually seen this type of structure at football clubs where the squad is kept together for a long period.
Belgium has more than half of their Euro 2016 squad players in the Euro 2020 squad as well, whereas other strong countries like England and Italy have made a lot of changes to their team.
Belgium is one of the favourites to win the Euro 2020 with the hybrid of an exciting and experienced squad. Belgium will play Italy in a mouth-watering tie-on on 3rd July. Euro 2020 is a perfect opportunity for Belgium to win a major tournament since the 1920’s Olympic football tournament.