The Belgium Euro 2020 squad for this summer was one of the first to be announced for this summer's tournament.
Manager Roberto Martinez has an embarrassment of riches in his final 26-man squad, selecting a star-studded collection of players from across some of Europe's biggest sides.
Selecting a squad complete with over 1,000 caps between them, Martinez is looking to capitalise on the experience that the current crop of talent Belgium possesses. The squad's most capped player with 76, Kevin De Bruyne assumed the role of captain in Hazard's absence as Belgium beat both Wales and Belarus, while drawing to Czech Republic.
With many key players in their late-20s or early-30s, this year's Euros and next year's World Cup are seen as the last chance for a supremely talented generation to land some silverware.
Belgium Euro 2020 squad
- GK: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
- GK: Thomas Kaminski (Blackburn Rovers)
- GK: Mats Selz (Strasbourg)
- DF: Jan Vertonghen (Benfica)
- DF: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur)
- DF: Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe)
- DF: Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin)
- DF: Jason Denayer (Lyon)
- MF: Leander Dendoncker (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
- MF: Timothy Castagne (Leicester City)
- MF: Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund)
- MF: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
- MF: Nacer Chadli (Istanbul Basaksehir)
- MF: Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid)
- MF: Youri Tielemans (Leicester City)
- MF: Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund)
- MF Axel Witsel (Borussia Dortmund)
- MF: Dennis Praet (Leicester City)
- MF: Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge)
- FW: Dries Mertens (Napoli)
- FW: Romelu Lukaku (Internazionale)
- FW: Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)
- FW: Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace)
- FW: Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)
- FW: Jeremy Doku (Rennes)
- FW: Leandro Trossard (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Belgium Euro 2020 squad: Team profile
Slowly, things have been building to a crescendo for Belgium. The Red Devils reached the last eight of the 2014 World Cup, then claimed third place at Russia 2018 – but their last European Championship experience was a stark reminder that tournament football is unforgiving. Hal Robson-Kanu showed how things can suddenly turn. Literally.
Belgium and a magnificent Eden Hazard obliterated Hungary 4-0 in the last 16, and took the lead against Wales in their quarter-final, but they were dumped out by a clinical side. Marc Wilmots was accused of lacking the tactical acumen to respond to Chris Coleman’s setup; he resorted to the physicality of substitute Marouane Fellaini in a desperate attempt to rescue the tournament. It didn’t work.
Thankfully, Roberto Martinez has had much more success when the chips are down – against Japan at the 2018 World Cup, for example, when Belgium rescued a late victory in frustrating circumstances. Under Martinez, the team has improved and matured. Every player is in tune with the demands of his 3-4-3 formation. The result? A unit that concedes few goals and is devastating up front. They breeze past smaller opponents and, crucially, can be imposing against the big guns as well: Belgium enjoyed their best ever qualifying campaign and swatted aside England to reach the 2021 Nations League Finals.
Not everything is hunky-dory, however. In January, Axel Witsel – sometimes criticised for slowing down Belgium’s play but ultimately crucial to their balance – tore his Achilles tendon. Can Wolves’ utility man Leander Dendoncker fill his shoes? The Leicester pair of Dennis Praet and the dependable Youri Tielemans – a future leader of this Belgium team – are both at their best higher up the field.
Martinez does at least have options there. Replacing Eden Hazard isn’t so simple – there’s simply no like-for-like alternative. Belgium’s talisman has had a nightmare with injuries and form since joining Real Madrid for £150m in 2019; his imperious Chelsea displays are a distant memory. Belgium can cope without him – they’ve proved that – but a fit and firing Eden Hazard would be huge for Martinez.
The Spaniard continues to downplay Belgium’s title credentials, but he’s fooling no one. This is a perfect opportunity for the Golden Generation to lift silverware.
Belgium Euro 2020 squad: Who is their manager?
Former Swansea, Wigan and Everton boss Roberto Martinez manages Belgium, after the national team appointed the 47-year-old in 2016.
The Spaniard took Belgium to third place at the 2018 World Cup, their best ever finish, in his only tournament so far with the nation.
Belgium Euro 2020 squad: Who is their star player?
Kevin De Bruyne has overtaken Eden Hazard as Belgium's star man, who hasn't kicked on as expected after joining Real Madrid in 2019. The Manchester City playmaker is one of best players playing at Euro 2020, who Belgium will no doubt look towards to provide them with assists.
The Premier League's 2019/20 Player of the Season, De Bruyne is a standout player in a Belgium team packed full of talent, including Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens and Thibaut Courtois.
Belgium's past Euros record
Belgium's first tournament appearance came in 1972, where they finished third. Hosting the tournament however, only four teams competed in the 1972 Euros.
The next time they progressed to the championships in 1980 though, Belgium managed to reach the final, losing to West Germany. They also reached the 1984 version of the tournament, but were knocked out in the group stages.
Missing three consecutive tournaments, Belgium returned to host the tournament once again in 2000, alongside the Netherlands. Failing to progress from the group stages, they proceeded to miss three consecutive tournaments again.
Despite the lay-off, Belgium qualified for the 2016 Euros, reaching the quarter-finals before surprisingly losing to Wales. Entering Euro 2020 with a 'Golden Generation' of players, Belgium are one of the tournament favourites.
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