Euro 2020 News – Belgium Euro 2020 Team Preview – Now or never for the golden generation of Roberto Martinez

Few teams were more affected by the delay of the year than Belgium. While some of England’s young stars could gain another year of experience, Belgium’s aging core had another year on the tires.

They’ve been a golden generation since the 2014 World Cup, but three tournaments have yielded just one semi-final spot for a ridiculous assortment of talented players.

Roberto Martinez brought back Thierry Henry and above all kept the faith in his heart, but will that be enough?

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The squad

There weren’t really too many surprises, that’s pretty much all of the core Martinez used during his tenure. The problem now, of course, is that they’re near or in their thirties.

Axel Witsel – Belgium

Image credit: Getty Images

Every name you would expect to see, you will see it. The only two players who might be frustrated at being excluded are Adnan Januzaj and Divock Origi. Although it’s not like either of them has recently ripped trees at club level.

Director

Roberto Martinez supports their third international tournament with Belgium and while it is clear that they have improved from where they were under Marc Wilmots it has not been good enough.

In the past, a World Cup, a third place would be more than what most Belgian fans would dream of asking, but this harvest is too special. Martinez has to reach the final, that’s the minimum fans expect.

England manager Gareth Southgate (L) greets Belgian coach Roberto Martinez ahead of the UEFA Nations League Group A2 soccer match between England and Belgium at Wembley Stadium, north London, October 11, 2020.

Image credit: Getty Images

Star player

All Belgian fingers and toes will be crossed in the hope that Kevin De Bruyne is fit enough to play after his horrific collision with Antonio Rudiger in the Champions League final.

If he’s fit, De Bruyne will take on a talisman role with Belgium, although Eden Hazard remains the captain.

De Bruyne

Image credit: Eurosport

There is also an argument for the role of Romelu Lukaku, after such an impressive season in Italy, but De Bruyne’s ability to conjure something about anything is key to tournament football.

Young star

It’s an old team. There are only two players under 25. The youngster to watch is without a doubt Jeremy Doku, the only teenager on the team.

He joined Rennes from Anderlecht in the summer of 2020 for a record € 26 million plus bonuses. If you want to know what kind of player he is, that’s the statistic to know, no player in Europe’s top five leagues has managed more dribbles than Doku’s 110. He’s a special talent and he’s ready to take over from players like the Hazard brothers.

Lyon Ivorian striker Maxwell Cornet (L) fights for the ball with Rennes Belgian striker Jeremy Doku (C) and Lyon Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta during the French L1 football match between Stade Rennais Football Club and Olympique Lyonnais at

Image credit: Getty Images

Surprise name

Christian Benteke has shown something that looks like his best form towards the end of this season, so his inclusion can be explained. However, the same cannot be said of Michy Batshuayi, who has struggled for form and fitness while on loan, coincidentally at Crystal Palace in Benteke.

Maybe Martinez is hoping he can be the impacting super-sub he’s been in the past.

Michy Batshuayi (Belgium)

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Is it the same feeling that sees a 35-year-old Thomas Vermaelen included? Despite the fact that he plays in Japan. Martinez is really pushing him back.

Tactical style

At this point, it’s no secret how Martinez will have Belgium line up. He will use either a 3-4-3 or a 3-4-2-1 depending on the situation. The two players behind Lukaku will alternate between playing as winger and 10 narrow.

It’s a similar system to Borussia Dortmund’s, and Martinez can often use two of his players, Thorgan Hazard and Thomas Meunier as wingers. They are the key to this system, if they are exposed the three Belgian full-backs become vulnerable, but they can be an absolute force if they fulfill their roles correctly.

Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund)

Image credit: Getty Images

Tournament prediction

As mentioned at the top of the article, Belgium must reach the final. But this is an old team with some huge injury issues.

They might have a relatively easy run to the semi-finals, but if they get there, it’s hard to see them go much further.

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