The challenge of the ‘golden generation’ of Belgian football to the top of the FIFA World Cup is likely to remain an unfulfilled dream.
After finishing the group stage with 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss, Belgium failed to progress to the round of 16 after being pushed to third place behind Morocco (2 wins, 1 game draw) and Croatia (1 win, 2 draws).
Belgium was one of the favorites to win the tournament.
FIFA’s current ranking is also second only to Brazil.
In particular, it was expected that the players’ decision would be different as this was the last chance for Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ to win the World Cup.
Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ refers to the players formed as a result of failing to qualify for the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals and nurturing the next generation of players.
Romelu Lukaku, Christian Benteke, Eden Hazard, Marouane Fellaini, Kevin Debrawiner, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Thibaut Courtois, in almost every position, from attack and defense to midfielder and goalkeeper world-class players have grown to up
Azar and De Bruyne are 31 years old, Pertonghen 35 years old, Alderweireld 33 years old, Courtois 30 years old, and Lukaku 29 years old.
They gave fans hope by reaching the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and in 2015, they took the top spot in the FIFA rankings and made them look forward to the future.
In the 2018 World Cup in Russia, these ‘golden generation’ managed to meet their peak skills and win the championship, defeating Brazil in the quarter-finals and paying for the name ‘golden generation’.
However, they lost to France in the semi-final and finished the tournament in 3rd place.
At the European Championships, another major competition, namely the 2016 and 2020 competitions ended in the quarter-finals, and third place in the 2018 World Cup ended up being the best result on offer.
Even in this tournament, they were considered candidates for the championship due to the players’ name values and FIFA rankings, but in the end, they could not overcome the burden of losing 0-2 in the second group match against Morocco .
The starting line-up, with an average age of over 30, highlighted difficulties in terms of physical strength rather than showing skill, and De Bruyne himself said in an official pre-tournament interview, “Our team is too old to win this tournament .”
In the ‘Golden Generation’, Lukaku, who was on the younger side, was not in normal condition due to a hamstring injury.
After the game, Lukaku, who failed to beat Boone, hit the transparent plastic placed on the bench with his fist.
In addition, the atmosphere in the team was not good, with rumors of discord among the players circulating during the tournament.
Coach Roberto Martinez accepted the elimination in an interview after the elimination, saying, “It is not an easy task to win the World Cup.”
However, regarding the 0-0 draw with Croatia in the third game, he said, “Today we created many chances, and we have no regrets.”
As the main axis of the ‘Golden Generation’ are in their early 30s, there is a possibility that they will challenge for another World Cup in 4 years time.
To do that, in order to rank third or higher in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, held at its height, it is necessary to go back in time to solve the homework.