Belgium fly into Brazil as a seeded team but not one of the traditional favourites, that title of course lie with the past winners. Though with a favourable group and a strong starting eleven, Belgium becomes one of the dark horses to win it.
The team they field in Brazil is a result of years of progress and development tactically strategized by the Belgian FA which begins at the grass root level. Patience played a big part to this as the Belgians have not played a major role in any of the international tournaments in the last two decades.
In regards to the current team it’s difficult to find a weakness; they boast world class players in almost all of the positions complete with experience in top flight leagues throughout Europe. They enjoy a balance of muscle, creativity and flare. Furthermore they have depth which gives them flexibility with tactics.
In goals they boast the inform keeper of the Premier League, Simon Mignolet and currently the best keeper in La Liga in Thibaut Courtois, either of the two will prove to be a fine choice come the World Cup. Their centre backs involve an array of EPL stars in Vertongen, Vermaelen and their captain, Vincent Kompany, regarded by many as the best centre half in world football.
Their midfield is arguably their strength boasting a balance of sturdiness in Fellaini, Dembele and Axel Witsel along with creative players in Kevin De Bruyne, Kevin Mirallas and of course their star Eden Hazard. Up front and they have two of the form strikers in the EPL who are built in similar fashion, Christian Benteke of Aston Villa and Everton’s Romelu Lukaku.
They have a strong spine and therefore can build their team around it. The way in which the Belgians play, evident in their impressive qualifying campaign is simple but very profound. Their time together has enabled the team to enjoy a high level of respect, they know what role each other plays and value it. They enjoy great harmony within the squad and great team chemistry.
This is due to the team’s experience having played together from the grass roots level. The 2008 Olympics dawned the beginning of this ‘golden generation’ of Belgian players. At the time they fielded an under 21’s team that consists the bulk of the players they still field today. Through all this time the core of the team remained and as a result the cohesiveness and chemistry improved year by year.
The recent dominance of Spain has the same context in its team having players that have played together through time. Their success was built on familiarity with each other which eventuated to two Euro’s and a World Cup. The similarities between the two is uncanny and if the Belgians achieve half of what the Spanish team have they would consider that a success.
Another important aspect for the Belgians is the lack of pressure they have from their local media and their supporters. Although they are confident they are somewhat only quietly confident. The fact that they do not have a major football league helps and because of this the players stay out of public attention.
The respect these players show towards the national team also adds to their positive aura as they do not have prima donnas’ that take advantage of being in the limelight. All these elements together demonstrate that the Belgians seem to have all the bases covered including training their players mentally. The efficient manner on how they built this golden generation is simply brilliant.
Being in the same group as Russia, South Korea and Algeria not many will argue that they are favourites to go through on top. With what seems to be an ideal group, history has also shown that complacency can play a big part in the demise of over hyped teams, similar to England in 2006. Experience is something that this relatively young team lacks and handling pressure is the most important attribute of winning a World Cup.
In a country that has a mixed population of French and Dutch speaking origins which historically has always built tension, will now finally be united by a common cause. For now tensions will cease in Brussels and unify the people to watch their national heroes attempt what five years ago would have been impossible. Though now because of the patience and brilliant planning by the Belgian FA, the people of Belgium should expect a strong performance from their team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
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