Belgium draws with Greece isn’t the headlines Martinez wanted to see following their latest international friendly! The window of opportunity is running out for Belgium to win its first international trophy with its current roster, the most talented in the country’s history.
Belgium Draws with Greece | What Happened
Belgium will be feeling the pressure as one of the favorites to win the competition despite losing midfielder Kevin De Bruyne to an acute nasal fracture and orbital bone fracture that occurred during a collision in the Champions League Final with Germany’s Antonio Rudiger.
Eden Hazard failed to make Belgium’s matchday squad even though he is known as the most talented Belgian ever, mostly due to a horrific two years in Spain since leaving Chelsea for Real Madrid.
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Hazard’s younger brother, Thorgan, netted the opening goal and lone breakthrough for Belgium in the 20th minute after one-timing the return pass of a one-two with Yannick Carrasco into the bottom left corner of the goal.
Giorgos Tzavellas was able to equalize for Greece just over 20 minutes into the second half after a cross from a free-kick was met with a diving header and ended up bouncing back off the post, where Tzavellas scooped up the pieces and slotted the ball neatly into the open net.
Belgium made six substitutions during the tune-up match and did not play its top goalkeeper, presumably to give backups Simon Mingolet and Matz Sels some match sharpness should they be required later in the tournament. Even though the approach was calculated and erred on the side of caution, it is still a surprise Belgium did not come away with a win.
Now or Never
Belgium’s defense has largely been together for over a decade but is composed of aging players and will need a complete overhaul shortly. Youri Tielemans is a young and promising midfielder that won the FA Cup with a brilliant strike earlier in the season and could be one of the players to usher more youth into the team.
Romelu Lukaku was voted as the Italian league’s MVP this year and will be the focal point of Belgium’s attack throughout the tournament. Lukaku totaled 30 goals and 10 assists in 44 appearances this season and is in the form of his life.
Jeremy Doku got the start at right-wing against Greece and despite being just 19 years old, he is one of the noticeably gifted players technically on the pitch. Doku’s speed behind the fullbacks and covering defenders will be an asset creating space for Lukaku in the middle and will create chances regardless of who the opponent is, shown in his performances for Rennes in the Champions League this season.
Belgium has one of the more talented benches in the Euros and could deploy fresh legs all over the pitch, depending on what the situation dictates.
What to Watch For
Belgium is in one of the more defensive groups in the opening stage, and will be competing with Russia, Denmark and Finland for a spot in bracket play. Russia recently finished fourth at the 2018 World cup while Denmark has only lost two games since 2019, both to Belgium (6-2 on aggregate). Finland is far from the most talented team in the Euros but plays a compact sort of style that can take time to break down.
All in all, the answer is no, it is not time to jump ship — Belgium should advance through the group stages without a great deal of effort, but there are surprises on the biggest stage. If Belgium can get Eden Hazard to recapture some of the magic that he built a reputation on displaying every time he was on the ball, they will be a tough out all the way through the final of the competition.
Belgium’s first appearance in the tournament will be Saturday, Jun 12th at 3:00 p.m. ET against Russia.
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.