Belgium’s much-vaunted ‘golden generation’ will go in search of World Cup glory next month in Qatar, although few pundits or sportsbooks expect them to deliver on years of immense promise and pedigree.
In fact, an average price of around 14/1 suggests that you’re better off gambling at ggpoker.global than backing Belgium to win the World Cup, despite the squad boasting star names like Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku.
However, Belgium retain at least an outside chance of winning their first ever World Cup in Qatar. In this article, we’ll explore their potential routes to WC glory this autumn, and ask whether it really could be their year.
Qualifying From Group F and a ‘Mega’ Round-of-16 Clash
Belgium have been drawn in Group F for the finals, alongside Canada, Morocco and fellow European giants Croatia (who also finished as runners-up in the 2018 iteration of the event).
Obviously, Belgium are the overwhelming favourites to qualify for the knockout stages, with Canada appearing in just their second WC finals and North African side Morocco present having featured in just one of the previous six tournaments.
Should Belgium top the group (they have an implied probability of 68% that they’ll achieve this objective), they’ll face the runners-up in Group F in the round-of-16.
This will most likely set up a mega clash with either Spain or Germany at the Education Stadium in Al-Rayyan, with these sides overwhelming favourites to qualify ahead of Japan and Costa Rica in Group.
Even if they finish as runners-up in Group F, they’re likely to face one of these sides in the second round, creating a significant obstacle at a relatively early stage of the tournament.
What About the Latter Stages of the Tournament?
If Belgium progress as group winners and are able to prevail in the round-of-16, they’ll face the winner of match 56 (which will pit the nation that topped Group H against the runners-up in Group G).
This could mean a realistic quarter-final against any one of Brazil, Portugal or Uruguay, although Serbia, Cameroon, Switzerland, Ghana and South Korea are also in contention for these places.
From here, the Netherlands, England, Argentina and France are among the most likely semi-final opponents, while one of these nations (and Denmark) could also lie in wait in the final.
Progressing to the quarters as the runners-up in Group F will see Belgium plot a similar path, facing either the winners of Group G (most likely Brazil) or the second-placed side in Group H (possibly Uruguay). This is another incredibly challenging clash, while a semi-final clash against Netherlands, England, Argentina and France could also follow depending on the final placings in Group A, B, C and D.
The Last Word
Ultimately, Belgium face an incredibly challenging path to the World Cup final, as even if they’re regardless of how they qualify from Group F, they’ll have to beat either Spain or four-time winners Germany in the round-of-16.
With Brazil, Portugal or Uruguay potentially lying-in wait in the quarterfinals, the Red Devils will have to be at their best to prevail, especially as defending world champions France and Copa America winners Argentina (who are in the midst of a 35-game unbeaten run) are likely opponents in the semis.
With these points in mind, it’s easy to see why Belgium aren’t among the favourites to win the 2022 World Cup. However, they retain a quality playing squad and some outstanding individuals, and can undoubtedly beat anyone on their day.