This article is part of the Guardian newspaper World Cup 2022 Expert NetworkIt is a collaboration between the best media organizations from 32 qualified countries. theguardian.com is running previews from two countries every day in the run-up to the tournament that kicks off November 20.
A plan is no more a plan, but rather a state of “what it is”. Roberto Martinez is simply sticking to the same tactical shape he gave six years ago: 3-4-3. Despite this, the staff has changed. Vincent Kompany has gone. Thomas Vermaelen too, with the former Arsenal defender now one of the assistant managers. Instead, when Belgium Wales and the Netherlands played in the Nations League in September, and the three defenders included three players from the Belgian Pro League.
Toby Alderweireld (Antwerp) and Jan Vertonghen (Anderlecht) recently returned home after playing in Qatar and Benfica respectively, while Anderlecht’s promising youngster Zeno Debast debuted in September. The problem is that Alderweireld and Vertonghen are not at the same level they were at Tottenham a few years ago.
Belgium lost twice to the Netherlands in four months and the shaky old defense is the main concern. Global goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois cannot stop all attacks alone. The other options in the back aren’t very encouraging either. Jason Denayer himself couldn’t help turning down several offers after leaving Lyon in the summer. He trained alone for several months before signing with Shabab Al Ahly in Dubai in October.
Up front, Romelu Lukaku had a bad season at Chelsea and then got injured after returning to Inter Milan. He only regained full fitness in October, but is reported to have exacerbated it again. Finally, Eden Hazard is injury-free at Real Madrid after three miserable years, but he doesn’t get many minutes.
“Eden is still very valuable to Belgium,” Martinez said of his captain. “The question is if he can play for 90 minutes and if he can handle seven games in a short amount of time. Nobody looks away from that reality. Eden hasn’t played at a consistent level for long and that has consequences. But he showed his value during the break. recent international.
Hazard still gets the nod with Leandro Trossard as an excellent alternative. Other than that, Belgium is highly dependent on Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne, their last remaining international players.