Three years after the semi-final of the World Cup lost against France, Belgium is more revenge than ever and has the assets to win a first title on the international scene. His journey begins in Russia this Saturday (9 p.m.).
Has the hour of revenge come? In the event of a clear course, France and Belgium would meet in the semi-final of the Euro on July 6 at Wembley. Without risking the game of predictions, such a remake would give even more flavor to the course of one or the other team, two scarecrows of the competition. So if it is already fashionable to imagine the reactions as long as they are chauvinistic on one side or the other of the border, the prospect of seeing the Belgians at this stage of the competition has nothing of a far-fetched prediction. This year even more than in 2016 and 2018, Belgium is advancing with its share of certainties which invariably places it among the favorites of the mouths of a large majority of observers.
“In view of the progression, Belgium is supposed to be the team in its ascending cycle, analyzes Marcel Desailly. They had a very good World Cup, where they impressed, but France cut their legs off. ” In the end, a third place after a success against England in the small final (2-0), and a feeling of revenge, therefore. Mostly. A wink of fate, Courtois and his partners will start their European campaign where it all stopped three years ago, at the Krestovski stadium in Saint Petersburg, to challenge Russia this Saturday (9 p.m., beInSport, M6). A first test (before Denmark and Finland) which is not a gradual start for a team which is fine-tuning its final adjustments. “We still lack a bit of synchronization but the team is ready for the Euro,” said coach Roberto Martinez on Thursday, who finds Thierry Henry as deputy for the competition.
Lukaku in the form of his life
A return which makes the happiness of a player in particular: Romelu Lukaku. “I often speak with Thierry Henry, very often even, confided the 28-year-old center forward in an interview with the VTM channel last October. He is actually my mentor. He gave me the impetus to be compared to other great strikers in Europe. ” And do better than many of them this season, where he was one of the great architects of the Inter Milan title (24 goals, 10 assists in Serie A), after which he was elected player of the season.
And with the Devils, with whom he wore the armband for the first time on June 3 against Greece (1-1), the native of Antwerp is much more than a safe bet, since he is already the best. scorer in the history of the selection (60 goals). A status that he will be keen to consolidate from Saturday in Russia, where he scored his first two goals with the national team in November 2010 (2-0). In the form of his life, the attacker became complete appears as the number 1 weapon of Belgium, which does not however lack headliners.
A first match without De Bruyne, what about Hazard’s form?
Because the selection remains one of the best on paper. “All their players play in big clubs,” Desailly recalls. From Courtois to Lukaku via Hazard and De Bruyne, the potential of the team legitimizes the ambitions of a first international title, which would bring in 435,000 euros for each of the 26 players selected according to the Het Laatse Nieuws. However, some leaders, including the last two mentioned, are physically in trouble. Starting with Kevin De Bruyne (29), hit in the nose in the Champions League final (0-1 against Chelsea) and already forfeited for the entry into the running of his family, like a other midfielder, Axel Witsel (32), insufficiently recovered from his Achilles tendon operation. “The absence of Kevin De Bruyne is a great loss for Belgium, but I think the other players will all be ready and in good shape. No team wants to lose its leader, but the Belgians remain the favorites, ”said Artem Dzyuba, the captain of Russia. In the other players, only one uncertainty remains and leaves doubt on the real strike force of the Devils: the case of Eden Hazard.
“We will see with the medical team what I will do for the first match, explained the Madrilenian to RTBF on Thursday. To start, it will be the choice of the coach but I am not yet 100%. ” Recurring muscle injuries seriously hamper the performance of the 30-year-old winger, who had been one of the very best players at the 2018 World Cup. The most recent, contracted in mid-May after two already black seasons with Real, brings back to life. causes the performance of a team long dependent on its captain. And recent friendlies (he only entered 8 minutes against Croatia on Sunday, 1-0) have been hardly reassuring. But the former Lille, like all Belgians, will certainly find an extra soul to the idea of revenge against the Blues. “It would be nice to have a rematch, in the quarters, half or maybe in the final. We are always a little disappointed with the way the semi-final went, “regretted Hazard in November 2019. Water has flowed under the bridges since. The grudge, it seems tenacious.