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Euro 2024: Anything but Golden

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After losing to France in the knock-out stages of Euro 2024, the Red Devils once again wave goodbye to another chance at lifting an international trophy.

In fact, the last time they won at a major tournament was back at the 1920 Olympics—that’s 104 years ago.

It is surprising, to say the least, that despite their calibre and quality, they have yet to progress past the quarter-final stage of the European Championship since 1980.

Mid-2010 onward, the majority of players fielded by the Belgian FA were considered to be members of the country’s highly-touted ‘Golden Generation.’

Euro 2024 was one of their last remaining chances to salvage something to prove their epithet accurate. Yet, it turned out to be another horrid outing.


Scoring woes

On paper, they shouldn’t have this problem. At manager Domenico Tedesco’s disposal are capable and proven attackers and midfielders. Unlike the problem of old, Belgium did not carry themselves an agieng squad.

Instead, Tedesco opted to field players who have been veterans of the squad and partner them with youthful vigour.

Leandro Trossard (Arsenal), Lois Openda (Leipzig), Jeremy Doku (Manchester City), Charles De Ketelaere (Atalanta), John Bakayoko (PSV), and Youri Tielemans (Aston Villa)—all of which have proven themselves in Europe’s finest competitions.

Add to this team the remaining bastion of the supposed ‘Golden Generation’ and you have a team that can make a title run.

The Red Devils were also extremely fortunate to avoid a harrowing draw as they ended with Slovakia, Romania, and Ukraine in Group E. A group where SBOTOP Euro 2024 odds had them as likely to win.

But even in a favourable setting, Belgium cannot seem to rid the proverbial monkey off their backs.

In all three games they played in their group, they were only able to score two goals—a 2-0 against Romania, where Tielemans and Kevin De Bruyne found the back of the net.

They could’ve had three, but Romelu Lukaku’s goal was disallowed for the third time in two games.

Euro 2024: Romelu Lukaku the most decorated goal scorer of Belgium
Romelu Lukaku complaining after his goals were ruled offside

Looking at how the match unfolded, Belgium was the obvious aggressor. They had 20 shots (nine on goal) and had 55 per cent of the possession.

They did try their best to be clinical and put Romania away with more goals, but Romania goalie Florin Nita had other plans.

That was their lone shining moment in the entire tournament.

Their outing with Slovakia was a shocker. Almost everyone had them as the winning side, and if VAR was any kinder, they’d have won 2-0.

Instead, Lukaku—Belgium’s most decorated goalscorer—had a couple goals disallowed.

Against Ukraine, they dominated control of the ball once again but failed to break through and had to settle for a draw.

The fans did not mince any words with the team at full-time after considering that the team were playing for a draw instead of going for the win.

Still, they qualified despite a lacklustre effort and had to be at their best in the knock-out stages against no less than France.

In a tight-knit affair, both teams struggled to get a good look at each other’s opposing goal. It lacked the Euro 2024 highlights everyone was expecting between two European powerhouses.

 In the end, a bit of luck may have helped France through Jan Vertonghen’s own goal in the 85th minute.


An honest reality

Belgium exit the Euro 2024 with nothing to show for it.

Their talented frontline only managed to score two goals, and Lukaku being offside by a few margins did not help their cause at all.

One of their rising stars, Jeremy Doku, finished with no goals or assists, and Kevin De Bruyne is still unsure of his future with the Red Devils.

Domenico Tedesco tried to steer Belgium in a different direction and avoid the problems that the team under Roberto Martinez’s side faced.

Sadly, it seemed as if Belgium’s football identity—at least, for now—is that of a squad always falling short of glory. They were wasteful all tournament long, and they often found themselves relying on individual skill rather than finding success via teamplay.

It’s wishful to think about how their fortunes would have played out had all of Lukaku’s goals been accredited. What if they did not lose to Wales in 2016? What if they beat France during the 2018 World Cup?

But what if, all this time, they really weren’t as great as everyone thought they were?

Well, all that glitters isn’t gold.




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