Perhaps the last hurrah of a golden generation of talent, Belgium head to Euro 2020 as the world’s top-ranked nation and among the favourites to lift the trophy.
Roberto Martinez will be keen to dispel any lingering memories of their disastrous quarter-final exit to Wales in 2016 and knows that in Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, he possesses some of the best attacking talent in the world.
Group B: Denmark, Finland, BELGIUM, Russia
Captain: Eden Hazard
Head Coach: Roberto Martinez
FIFA Ranking: 1
Best Finish: Runner up – 1980
BELGIUM v Russia – 12 June, 20:00 (BST). Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Denmark v BELGIUM – 17 June, 17:00 (BST). Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark
Finland v BELGIUM – 21 June, 20:00 (BST). Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Rarely is qualification for a major tournament as comfortable as it was for Belgium in Group I, who dispatched all challengers to win 10 out of 10 and top the group.
Scoring 40 goals (nine of which came at home against San Marino) and conceding just three, Roberto Martinez’s side laid down an impressive marker for those aiming for glory in the finals tournament, showing Belgium remain almost unstoppable when at their best.
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Matz Sels (Strasbourg)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Timothy Castagne (Leicester), Jason Denayer (Lyon), Thomas Meunier (Dortmund), Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica)
Midfielders: Nacer Chadli (İstanbul Başakşehir), Yannick Carrasco (Atlético Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Leander Dendoncker (Wolves), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Thorgan Hazard (Dortmund), Dennis Praet (Leicester), Youri Tielemans (Leicester), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Axel Witsel (Dortmund)
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Jeremy Doku (Rennes), Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Leandro Trossard (Brighton)
Danger Man – Romelu Lukaku
Often maligned during his time in England, Lukaku has proved his doubters wrong since joining Inter Milan, scoring 47 goals in 72 games as they won the 2020/21 Serie A title.
Unbelievably, despite only being 28, Lukaku is not only Belgium’s top scorer of all time with 60 goals, but no other player has more than 32!
Expect to see Lukaku on the end of most of Belgium’s attacking play, with the Golden Boot a distinct possibility.
One to Watch – Jeremy Doku
The only teenager in Belgium’s 26-man squad, 19-year-old Jeremy Doku could be set for a breakthrough summer with Belgium.
Performances for Anderlecht earned him a move to French side Rennes in 2020/21, where he featured extensively. With eight appearances and two international goals to his name already, Doku is not there simply to make up the numbers.
Premier League Representation
Toby Alderweireld, Timothy Castagne, Dennis Praet, Leander Dendoncker, Youri Tielemans, Leandro Trossard, Kevin De Bruyne, Christian Benteke and Michy Batshuayi all featured in the Premier League in 2020/21, while a plethora of others have experience in the Premier League.
Simon Mignolet, Jan Vertonghen, Jason Denayer, Thomas Vermaelen, Dedryck Boyata, Nacer Chadli and Eden Hazard have all appeared in the English top-flight recently.
Route to the Final
- If Belgium top the group, they will play the team who finishes third in Group A, D, E or F.
- If Belgium finish second, they will face the team that finish second in Group A (Turkey, Italy, Wales, Switzerland)
- If they finish as one of the four best third-placed teams, they will play the winner of either Group E or F.
After the second round, the draw will depend on which third-place teams qualified for the knockout stages.
- This will be Belgium’s sixth appearance at a European Championships.
- Of players at Euro 2020, only Cristiano Ronaldo (103) and Robert Lewandowski (66) have scored more international goals than Romelu Lukaku (60).
- Belgium have been top of the FIFA World rankings since September 2018, losing only to Switzerland and England in that time.