Belgium start their tournament with a disappointing display against the magnificent Italians leading many to ask: What do the ‘dark horses’ of the tournament have to do to compete with the best teams in the world?
The first round of games in this years Euros have now been completed and one team that have failed to impress have been the Belgians. A lot of pundits and football fans tipped them as their dark horses for the competition but from watching and analysing their performance against Italy, I for one, was not impressed.
Lets start with a positive.
Although disappointing this premier league season, he was the only player along with Courtois who gave a performance that was above average. He did not go missing during the game; always trying to dart inside and link up with the front man but it just didn’t seem like anyone was on his wavelength until late in the second half when the likes of Mertens came on, who also put in a credible performance. So what is the problem with Belgium? The players don’t have any chemistry? The players aren’t good enough? The manager just got it wrong?
For me, it is predominately the latter which caused the former. The formation that the manager decided to deploy did not play to any of their strengths. A lot of their attacks were slow, predictable and uninspiring to say the least. To get the best out of this Belgian team you have to implement Kevin De Bruyne in a more central position bringing in a more natural winger like Mertens to hit the byline and get crosses into the box. As previously discussed, Hazard does like to cut in from the left and look for a give and go with players however for some off reason, Fellaini was playing in an attacking role?
The inclusion of Fellaini was a shock for me considering the amount of options they had on the bench, including Tottenham Hotspur’s Moussa Dembele. Another critical element to Belgium’s poor performance was the poor quality shown by the strikers. I have never been a big fan of Lukaku on and off the pitch. There is no doubt he is a talented player but i feel that he thinks he is better than he is and he was given a real schooling by the likes of Chiellini and Bonucci on Monday evening. Of course this is the first game and improvement will be expected however will Belgium always be the team that is good on ‘paper’ but never performs at major competitions?
Team and Formation Belgium should play (4-2-3-1)
Ciman, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Vermaelen
…………….Hazard, De Bruyne, Mertens,