Belgium are still an unknown quantity on the international stage and it will be interesting to see how the number 2 world ranked team can perform at Euro 2016. Belgium recorded 2 losses and a draw en route to France along with 7 wins bringing a total of 24 goals, the second most goals scored by any team during qualifying and this attack minded mentality will prove to be extremely troublesome for any team in this competition.
This Belgium squad is arguably one of the most star filled teams of any side coming to France. The likes of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Axel Witsel and Kevin De Bruyne are just a few of the world class names on the team sheet, and this standard of player continues right through to the substitutes as Dries Mertens one of Italian side Napoli's most prolific goal scorers can only just make the bench.
However, this strength in depth does not ensure good performances in competition football, as seen through previous years, and this side will have to improve on what they have achieved so far. Belgium haven't qualified for the Euro's since 2000 and were expected to reach the tournament in 2012 but fell short with a team that included many of the names that will be on the plane to France. This should not worry them though as the previous side was a far more inexperienced team and if they can improve on a World cup run of reaching the Quarter-finals, only to be beaten by eventual runners up Argentina, they should be looking at reaching the latter stages of Euro 2016.
Belgium should be looking at taking home the trophy if their Fifa ranking is anything to by. Their squad is filled with potential and the whole of Belgium will be hoping that Euro 2016 is where they make their name on the international stage. Whether Belgium can actually win the tournament is still up for debate as they did have a bit of a lack lustre World cup and there is still question marks surrounding the experience of this team.
Euro 2016 may come a bit too soon for a progressing squad, but Belgium may well improve as the tournament goes on and if they can grow in confidence they may be to be difficult to stop. Although Belgium will harbour ambitions of lifting the trophy, they will also be content to get to the later stages of the tournament and gain some vital experience as this side is definitely capable of winning a competition but it will more than likely be at a later date and Euro 2016 in France may be a touch too early for them.
|Belgium / Netherlands||2000||Group Stage||12|
|Portugal||2004||Did not qualify||-|
|Austria / Switzerland||2008||Did not qualify||-|
|Poland / Ukraine||2012||Did not qualify||-|
Belgium have a torrid record at the European Championships, failing to qualify since 2000 which they qualified for automatically by virtue of being hosts, where they exited during the group stages after a lacklustre display.
|3||Rep of Ireland||3||1||1||1||2||4||4|
|13.06.16||17.00||Rep of Ireland||1 - 1||Sweden|
|13.06.16||20.00||Belgium||0 - 2||Italy|
|17.06.16||14.00||Italy||1 - 0||Sweden|
|18.06.16||14.00||Belgium||3 - 0||Rep of Ireland|
|22.06.16||20.00||Italy||0 - 1||Rep of Ireland|
|22.06.16||20.00||Sweden||0 - 1||Belgium|
Group E awaits this Belgium side and they will be expected to fill one of the first 2 finishing positions. Their biggest competition will come from the Italians as they are an experienced side who come into this tournament in good form. Italy will probably be favourites to win this fixture but Belgium may upset the odds and possibly ensure the number 1 spot in the group. The two games that follow should be fairly comfortable for the world ranked number 1 side as they play Sweden and Republic of Ireland. They are fully expected to get the full 6 points here and the group will surely be decided in the crucial game against Italy.
Here's a list of the 4 teams drawn in Group E and their FIFA World Ranking, as you can see, Belgium are by far the highest ranked team, with Italy trailing a long way second.
Belgium have a quality side with many goal scorers included in it however the main man up front is none other than Everton's star player Romelu Lukaku and he will surely get lots of chances to score in France with the quality that he has playing behind him in midfield.
During qualification, Belgium scored a lot of goals from midfield with Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard leading the way with 5 goals each and Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini chipping in with 4, but it's Lukaku who's tipped to shine brightest at Euro 2016 as he possesses pace, power and clinical finishing ability.
|Eden Hazard||25||Midfield / Forward||5|
|Kevin de Bruyne||24||Midfield||5|
Belgium will surely escape Group E but it may only be as runners up which will mean a far trickier draw in the last 16. A huge positive for Belgium though is that the runners up in group E will face the winners of group F which is arguably one of the weakest groups at Euro 2016. Their most likely opponents will be either Austria or Portugal and Belgium may fancy their chances against either of these sides.
Austria are like Belgium in that they have a young and inexperienced side but they do not possess the depth of talent that this side does and this will surely be the fixture that Belgium would pick to try and reach the Quarter-finals. The harder tie would most likely be against Portugal who have one of the most feared players in international football at their disposal.
Cristiano Ronaldo's goals will be at the heart of Portugal's campaign at Euro 2016 and the young defence of Belgium may struggle to cope with this unstoppable force. Belgium's final finishing position will depend totally on other results which are out of their hands, but if the expected happens and Portugal top Group E then it may mean an exit in the last 16 or Quart-finals for Belgium.
The star man for Belgium will certainly be Kevin De Bruyne. The former Wolfsburg star has the ability to create chances out of nothing and his abilities on the ball are second to none. The main asset that he possess is his undoubted ability to find the back of the net and his goals from midfield will be key for Belgium. With the big men up front for Belgium, De Bruyne may be able to find space in behind the midfield and his goals will be crucial for Belgium in the later stages when 1 goal can change a game.
Belgium tend to keep the ball very well and rely upon their creative talents to open up the opposition. They have the added benefit of being able to play two ways as they can keep the ball and play patiently, waiting for a gap to open in the defence. Or they can be direct and send a ball through to the big man Lukaku who can hold it up and bring other players into play. This diversity will be an advantage at Euro 2016 as they will have to find more than one way to win against the better sides.