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What is Next for the Belgium National team?


Header logoWC 2022 - Group F

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Last updated 12/07/2024

What is Next for the Belgium National Team?

Belgium crashed out of the 2022 World Cup in the group stage after three underwhelming performances, culminating in the resignation of Roberto Martinez.

The Red Devils started the tournament with a fortunate 1-0 victory over eventual bottom-of-the-group Canada, but the underdogs dominated, missed a penalty, and didn’t deserve to lose the tie.

Then, Belgium were defeated 2-0 by Morocco, with the African nation’s counter attacking game plan working perfectly. Going into the final game, Belgium needed three points against Croatia to progress to the knockout stages. The game ended 0-0 with Martinez’s men missing many big chances, on another day they could have had a comfortable lead and a place in the next round.

According to many reports, there was a lot of friction in the squad and the morale was at an all-time low. Making it a sour end to an era full of unbelievable talent.

The End of a Golden Generation

Belgium’s golden generation will only have a third-place finish in the 2018 World Cup to look back on, a nation that was never able to reach its full potential in a period where they were ranked number one in the FIFA rankings.

Martinez is no longer Belgium’s coach and their disappointing World Cup performance was concluded with the international retirement of their captain and all-time great, Eden Hazard.

Kevin De Bruyne, Dries Mertens, Axel Witsel, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, and Thibaut Courtois are all now in their 30’s, with defensive rock Vincent Kompany now managing Burnley. In four years’ time at the next World Cup, the majority of those players will follow in the footsteps of Hazard and be retired at international level, which will definitely concern the Belgian fans. It does seem that the World Cup in Qatar was the last opportunity for this generation to achieve success and Belgium may never have a stronger side again.

The Next Generation of Belgian Talent

Belgium have a handful of promising young talented individuals who will have to step up for their nation when the experienced players are no longer able to perform to the required standard. None of them can be considered in the same bracket as the likes of Jude Bellingham and Jamal Musiala, but they do have great potential to have successful careers.

Jeremy Doku is a player that is easy to admire, simply for how direct he is when he picks up the ball. We saw that in his 18-minute cameo appearance vs Croatia in the final group game, showing more intent than any player in the first 70 minutes of the game. The winger is only 20 and plays his club football in France for Stade Rennais.

Doku broke onto the international stage during Euro 2020, displaying his fearless attitude, confidence, and direct dribbling in the quarter-final defeat to Italy.

They have more youthful firepower in the form of Charles De Ketelaere. The 21-year-old moved to AC Milan in the summer from Belgian side Club Brugge, however, he has been unable to continue his impressive form at his new club.

Moving to the Serie A champions is a huge step up in the second striker’s career and his lack of experience will have also cost him minutes at the World Cup. He could be vital for Belgium going forward, as his projected development is that of a creative goalscorer.

Belgium have also got a spectacular midfield prospect in Amadou Onana. He has been brilliant for Everton this season, with his incredible work rate and impressive technical ability for someone who is 6”4. At just 21 he will be an important player for Belgium, as already shown at this World Cup, being the perfect partner for Leicester’s Youri Tielemans.

What Could Belgium’s Line-up Look like at the 2026 World Cup?

Thibaut Courtois is likely to be the man in between the sticks in four years’ time, just behind a backline consisting of Leicester City’s Wout Faes, Zeno Debast from Anderlecht, and Arthur Theate of Stade Rennais.

The wing backs will be the Premier League duo, Timothy Castagne and Leandro Trossard who is an extremely versatile player. The Brighton man has excelled in a wing-back role for his club and it provides the coach an opportunity to be tactically flexible.

Youri Tielemans and Amadou Onana seems to be the best midfield pairing that Belgium can start with. The duo provide great technical ability and Onana makes up for Tielemans' lack of physicality, giving the side a nice balance.

Kevin De Bruyne will be 35, potentially meaning that he is dropped to the bench. However, its likely that he will still line up in a number 10 role alongside Jeremy Doku. They will both provide creativity for Romelu Lukaku or Charles De Ketelaere, with either of the pair leading the line for Belgium.

Who Could Take Charge of the Red Devils?

Martinez left his role as Belgium's manager following their World Cup failure, leaving the national side without a person in charge. The most talked about replacement is ex-Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany, who is now Burnley’s manager in the EFL Championship. The former Belgium international has impressed so far In his early managerial career, with his side sitting top of the league with 21 games played.

An emphasis on playing attacking football has earned Kompany respect from fellow managers, having learned from some of the best in his successful career as a player. Although the Belgium job is a large responsibility, it seems to be the perfect opportunity for Kompany to develop his career as a coach due to already having strong relationships with the majority of the national squad. He will be in charge of a mixture of young talent and experienced players, all with the aim to return home with an international honour.