What are Belgium’s chances to win the 2018 World Cup?
Everyone loves a dark horse victory … Fans of the Belgium national team are likely awaiting such an upset during the upcoming World Cup matches. One of the most interesting features of this team is that they initially appeared to have suffered a near-fatal defeat in Greece. However, they bounced back in order to qualify for the upcoming illustrious competition. Their current stats are as follows:
- FIFA Ranking: 5th
- Tournament best: 4th place (1986)
- Number of Appearances: First Stage 12, semifinals 1
So, will this team prove the pessimists wrong or are they destined to once again be relegated to a loss during the 2018 World Cup? Let’s take a closer look.
A Quick Look at the History of the Belgium National Team
The history of the Belgian national team can be traced back to 1904 when they played their first maiden match. They have enjoyed three successful runs in regards to international recognition. The first occurred between 1920 and 1938. The second spanned from 1970 to 2002. After an exodus from the world stage, they once again enjoy prominence in 2014 and they have maintained a respectable reputation ever since. One notable player was Paul Van Himst who is considered by many to the the top Belgian footballer of the 20th century. Also known as The Red Devils, the next question is whether or not the present team can capitalise upon their previous “golden years” in order to take the title.
The Team – What Can We Expect?
There is no doubt that the star of the 2018 Belgium national team is Eden Hazard. His surname may very well be appropriate, for this younger player has proven to be quite a challenge for opposing teams. The Chelsea forward has been associated with five assists and an impressive six goals during the qualifying rounds. If he continues with this same pace, Belgium could very well present a formidable obstacle for other groups on the pitch.
However, Hazard is not the only player within the arsenal of the The Red Devils. It is important to note that besides a few personalities such as defenders Laurent Ciman and Thomas Vermaelen, the majority of the squad is aged between 20 and 27. This sense of youth could very well provide a challenge to teams with a more mature demographic; particularly in terms of offensive capabilities. Other players to keep a close eye on include forward Romelu Lukaku, midfielder Kevin DeBruyne and defender Vincent Kompany. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois should likewise be mentioned, as he performed consistently well during the previous season. Will he stand up to the pressure associated with the World Cup stage? This has yet to be seen.
A Coach With a Desire to Win
Most of us are already aware that Roberto Martinez was considered by many to be a surprise choice to replace seasoned coach Marc Wilmots in 2016. The fact that Wilmots was pivotal in regards to the third “golden age” of the Belgian team was not lost on fans as well as analysts. However, there is a bit of a catch here. This Spanish coach boasts a great deal of experience in England; particularly in Swansea and Everton. Some feel that this club-level leadership might not be enough to endure the pressure associated with the 2018 Cup. Still, he has led an unbeaten Belgium to the finals. It will be interesting to see whether or not he has the acumen and the leadership skills in order to capitalise upon this previous momentum in 2018.
Will History Prove to be a Sticking Point?
It is no secret that football clubs are cursed or blessed by their performance history. Once a club reaches the top, it tends to remain at or near this pinnacle. Some are wondering whether or not the fact that Belgium has appeared at only a single semifinal match (not to mention their 12 appearances) might dampen their spirits a bit. However, this is one time when youth could very well come into play. Let’s not forget that their best showing was back in 1986, More than half of their current players were not even born yet. With such young blood coursing through the veins of this club, they might very well be able to overcome the stigma associated with less-than-stellar performances in the past.
The Long and Hard Road to Russia
Will number 13 prove to be a charm or a curse? This is the question that fans and analysts alike are now asking. While their 9-0 victory against Gibraltar earlier in the season wowed many supporters, the fact that Belgium struggled to leverage a 2-1 victory over Greece does indeed raise questions. Will a younger team be able to hold it together against seasoned competitors? Could the recent change of coaches prove to be a sticking point? Will the fact that they have appeared in no World Cup final have an impact during subsequent matches?
It is already predicted that Eden Hazard will prove to be the lynchpin either way. If he is able to take on the role of captain in terms of inspiration, others may rally behind his efforts. Should he falter early on, we have to wonder whether or not the team will be able to pull it together; particularly if coach Martinez is unable to spur the emotions of his players during the second half.
In truth, the chances of Belgium snagging a World Cup win are slim. Still, only time will tell and the fact of the matter is that there is indeed a first time for everything. One thing is absolutely certain. This team will be undoubtedly training vigorously between now and summer 2018. It will be interesting to see if they can leverage this momentum and it they will be able to pull it all together for a win (or at least a reputable showing in Russia).
2018 Belgium World Cup Betting Odds
|Event||Selection||Best Odds||Bet Now|
|2018 World Cup||Belgium Win||11/1*|
|2018 World Cup||Belgium Win||9/1*|
|2018 World Cup||Belgium Win||9/1*|
*Odds at the time of writing. Subject to change.