It did not take lengthy for Belgium to remind us all precisely why they have been tipped to win a serious trophy for properly over half a decade now.
The ‘Golden Era’ has not produced the products thus far, coming closest within the 2018 World Cup once they reached the semi-finals, solely to be crushed by eventual winners France. And loads of critics noticed that painful exit because the disappointing finish of this explicit crop of stars.
The rising feeling amongst some corners of the soccer world is that this squad is past its peak, and with former Wigan and Everton coach Roberto Martinez on the helm, we can’t take them severely as favourites for a trophy.
It is time to nip that exact narrative within the bud, nevertheless. Belgium stay a drive to be reckoned with, and the scary ease with which they dispatched of Russia in their very own yard tells you all you have to know in regards to the Pink Devils, Euro 2020 (+1+ version.
From again to entrance, there may be expertise oozing by way of this squad. Thibaut Courtois had little to show on Saturday night, however he is without doubt one of the finest goalkeepers on the planet. When the time comes for him to step in and save his staff, he’ll be prepared.
The backline is without doubt one of the main causes for concern amongst Belgian supporters, with the ageing Jan Vertonghen and much from elite Dedryck Boyata appearing as two-thirds of the defence. The truth that 35-year-old Thomas Vermaelen nonetheless makes the squad suggests they’re nonetheless ready for the following golden technology of centre-backs to return by way of.
However they’re no mugs, both. Expertise counts for lots, and with Toby Alderweireld within the again three, they’re going to know the best way to get the most effective out of one another and the best way to cover each other’s deficiencies.
The midfield is filled with expertise, too. Even with out talisman Kevin De Bruyne, Martinez was in a position to fall again on some great alternate options, with Youri Tielemans, Thorgan Hazard and Leander Dendoncker all impressing.
Then in fact, there’s the assault. Yannick Carrasco and Dries Mertens performed their supporting roles fantastically, however as at all times, it was all about Romelu Lukaku. The striker is coming off the again of a title-winning season with Inter, the place, though he bagged fewer objectives this yr, his general efficiency ranges have been arguably larger.
He kicked off the scoring with a intelligent end when the chance introduced itself, and rounded it off with an equally potent strike. Two objectives, one together with his left foot and one together with his proper – an all-round great footballer.
In Lukaku, Belgium boast some critical firepower, and with such firepower comes a shot at glory. It was he who made the distinction for Inter this yr, and his progress as a participant means he not solely grabs the headlines, however he can solid his teammates into the highlight, too.
All in all, it was a job properly accomplished. The sport was killed off as a contest on 34 minutes by Thomas Meunier’s strike, however in actuality, it was accomplished and dusted after the opener. Belgium managed the sport, toying with Russia and holding all hope of a comeback properly out of arm’s attain.
It was an expert job, carried out by a prime set of gamers, working below an modern and underrated boss. Do not rule them out, of us, Belgium fancy themselves for a crack at this one.