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Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation


Guest Abdel Zizi

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Guest Abdel Zizi

Julius Caesar once said: "The bravest Gauls are the Belgae."

If only we were still now.

Throughout the history of football, the Belgian national soccer team displayed a great deal of hard work and dedication, pride and bravery against some of the worlds finest associations. There was no challenge that was too though, every hurdle was to be taken. Numerous times Belgian players won prestigious awards on big tournaments. Michel Preud'Homme was the first ever goalie to recieve the Lev Yashin award in 1994, whilst Enzo Scifo was the best young player on the legendary World Cup of 1986.

As one of the founding fathers of the institute that is the World Cup, Belgium has a rich past. As Olmypic Gold Medalist in 1920 for the home crowd in Antwerp, Belgium was a force to be reckoned with. Along with fellow powerhouses, they invented a tournament for countries around the globe without having to resort to Olympic measures. The World Cup was born. In the World Cup, there were nice victories over big countries, but never the taste of silverwear. It's important to know that to date, Belgium hasn't won an international football tournament since the 1920 Olympics.

The eighties were an awesome time for this little country: Belgium finished second in the EC of 1980, and finished fourth in the WC of 1986, only to be denied by the genius that is/was Diego Armando Maradona.

At club level, golden years emerged:

Anderlecht: 1 x Uefa Cup, 2 x Europa Cup II and 2 x Uefa Super Cup.

Club Brugge: 1 x Uefa Cup, 1 x Kirin Cup and 1 x Champions League.

KV Mechelen: 1 x Uefa Cup and 1 x Uefa Super Cup.

+ 7 European finals lost by the three above and Standard.

It's fair to say Belgium was the football capital between 1975 and 1986.

Since then, decline hit the country hard. Belgium still went on a nice streak as one of the countries that's been at the WC most in a row, only behind 2 others. Since 2002 it stopped. No tournaments were made, coaches got fired, players were simply not good enough.

We can all blame the KNVB or Koninklijke Belgische Voetbalbond (Royal Belgian Football Association). The old men that take part of this ancient institute still believe they are in 1982, that everything will turn alright by itself and that there's just a momentarily dip. In short, they are the reason Belgium is performing very below par. In terms of talent, we have a top 10 team in the world, in terms of management we have to be lucky to placed higher than Oman and Tibet on the Fifa-ranking.

We'll just have to wait till a miracle occurs. And what do you know, it's happening!

Belgium has the extreme luck to welcome what very well could be one the most talented youth squads in the history of football.

GK: Simon Mignolet (21), Thomas Kaminski (18)

Def: Thomas Vermaelen (24), Vincent Kompany (24), Jan Vertonghen (23), Toby Alderweireld (21), Odoi (22), Funso Ojo (18), Dedryck Boyata (19)

Mid: Mats Rits (17), Eden Hazard (19), Maxime Lestienne (18), Kevin de Bruyne (18), Guillaume Francois (20), Yassine El Ghanassy (19), Stijn Wuytens (20), Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez (21), Axel Witsel (21), Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe (21), Marouane Fellaini (22), Steven Defour (22), Jonathan Legear (23), Dries Mertens (23)

Fwd: Romelu Lukaku (17), Moussa Dembele (22)

This is our youth squad people! For the record, he are our "older" players:

Daniel Van Buyten (32), Jelle van Damme (26), Igor De Camargo (27), Nicolas Lombaerts (25), Maarten Martens (26) and a few others, dependant on form.

Our biggest liability is our new coach, Georges Leekens. He's a good coach, but not one that brings out the best of a national team. His habitat is the sort of team that is projected to finish 15th, which he steers to 7th place. That's George Leekens. A squad that's bursting of potential but that needs discipline and most of all tactical awareness is going nowhere. We have got to act now, as the players above are the Wesley Sneijders, Arjen Robbens, Rafael Van Der Vaarts 8 years ago. Our northern neighbours have a country equal in size to ours, and they had the same young and potentially great squad as ours 8 years ago. Today they reached the final of a WC, I can't help but think that's in Belgium's reach too.

Here follows what I believe has to be the squad today, in 2 years time should we reach the EC and in 2 years time should we reach the Olympics:

Today:

Stijnen (29)

Lombaerts (25) Kompany (24) Vermaelen (24) van Damme (26)

Fellaini (22) Defour (22)

Witsel (21) | | Legear (23)

| Hazard (19) |

| Lukaku (17) |

Second option is to drop Legear, move Hazard to left flank, and play Dembele (22) up front. Fellaini would move to the AM slot.

EC 2012:

Mignolet (24)

Alderweireld (23) Kompany (26) Vermaelen (26) Vertonghen (25)

Fellaini (24) Defour (24)

Witsel (23) De Bruyne (20)

Hazard (21)

Lukaku (19)

Two remarks. Both Alderweireld and Vertonghen are atm NOT able to play consecutive solid games at RB and LB. They need to be re-schooled, or new talent has to emerge fast. Odoi is an option at LB, maybe. Second remark is the emergence of De Bruyne. He's only now breaking through, but he has all what it takes to be a top player.

Olympics 2012:

Kaminski (20)

Boyata (21) Alderweireld (23) Vermaelen (26) De Bock (19)

Odjidja-Ofoe (23) Defour (24)

El Ghanassy (21) De Bruyne (20)

Hazard (21)

Lukaku (19)

A fair few remarks here. All depends on how talents develop, if new players emerge, will top teams let their players go for the Olympics, injuries and more. At the Olympics, every contry may bring three players over the age of 23, as long as the rest is 23 or below. In essence, we do not need this, but it would be smart to bring along a player like Vermaelen who has plenty of international experience. World class players like Hazard and Lukaku will have multiple seasons at high level under their belt when they take on what could feel like a bunch of kids. As said, it's a bit looking in the dark, but this team would get far, really far. PS: You would have a bench consisting out of a dozen young players all equally as good to play.

I hope everyone enjoyed reading this, if they did, and that they keep an eye out for Belgium. You'll never know, one day talent may turn into gold.

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Great post,

It's true, Belgium have an amazing group of prospects, and will become a fantastic national side in the years to come. One name to look out for is (Credit Spam) Thorgan Hazard, Eden's apparently even more talented younger brother, who should have well and truly arrived for the 2014 WC.

I think nearly every player in this team under 23 is worth investing in if you have the cash lying around, what a generation we are about to see.

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Guest Abdel Zizi

Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Great post' date='

It's true, Belgium have an amazing group of prospects, and will become a fantastic national side in the years to come. One name to look out for is (Credit Spam) Thorgan Hazard, Eden's apparently even more talented younger brother, who should have well and truly arrived for the 2014 WC.

I think nearly every player in this team under 23 is worth investing in if you have the cash lying around, what a generation we are about to see.[/quote']

Thorgan isn't half as talented as Eden.

Nobody is.

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Thorgan isn't half as talented as Eden.

Nobody is.

Well if you say so' date=' but:

Well the Hazard family have another absolute gem coming through (and incidentally; have yet another potential wonderkid in Ethan Hazard, still in Belgium) in second born son Thorgan, tipped by both Lens coach Jean-Guy Wallame and brother Eden to be even better than the emerging 18 year old.
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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Nice thread Belgium should have a bright future and will be a real force in a couple of years. Also regarding Fellaini I think it would be better to keep him as DM as when he plays for Everton he seems to no what he is doing more there and plays better.Nice thread Belgium should have a bright future and will be a real force in a couple of years. Also regarding Fellaini I think it would be better to keep him as DM as when he plays for Everton he seems to no what he is doing more there and plays better.

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Guest Abdel Zizi

Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Well if you say so' date=' but:[/quote']

I am fully aware of Spam's thread, as I have posted on his thread numerous times before. Thorgan is a talent, but he's too young to make a deliberated quote on his future.

Nice thread Belgium should have a bright future and will be a real force in a couple of years. Also regarding Fellaini I think it would be better to keep him as DM as when he plays for Everton he seems to no what he is doing more there and plays better.Nice thread Belgium should have a bright future and will be a real force in a couple of years. Also regarding Fellaini I think it would be better to keep him as DM as when he plays for Everton he seems to no what he is doing more there and plays better.

I agree.

I like Fellaini more as a DM going to box to box, instea of AM.

Hazard isa true playmaker, he belongs there.

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

I am fully aware of Spam's thread' date=' as I have posted on his thread numerous times before. Thorgan is a talent, but he's too young to make a deliberated quote on his future.

I agree.

I like Fellaini more as a DM going to box to box, instea of AM.

Hazard isa true playmaker, he belongs there.[/quote']

Look forward to watching Belgium in a couple of years. Seeing as you know alot about Belgian football, do you think Defour will move as he has been linked with Everton for a number of years and apparently Everton had a bid turned down last season. If he does move were do you think he will go?

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Guest Abdel Zizi

Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Look forward to watching Belgium in a couple of years. Seeing as you know alot about Belgian football' date=' do you think Defour will move as he has been linked with Everton for a number of years and apparently Everton had a bid turned down last season. If he does move were do you think he will go?[/quote']

I hope he does.

He has had a bad season, due to a long injury, but he is a great player.

Kinda Daniele de Rossi mould, I hope Defour moves to a bigger team than Everton. Maybe a Tottenham, Sevilla, something like that.

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Nice work, not read anything of yours for a while.

Like your statement on Eden's brother. I'll go with you on that one, but could still be 50/50, Eden's actually doing the business isn't he, Thor might have it in the locker but, the locker is yet to be opened!

I too have been looking at Belgium for the future, some stars in the making.

Who's De Bock? Not heard of that gem... yet.

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Excellent thread mate.

I too share your optimism for the Belgian future, however it really does depend on 2 things - that being whether the players can keep their feet on the ground; and whether the Belgian authorities can find the right man to get the best out of these players.

We will have to wait and see.....

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

I think Everton would be a great place for Defour. I dont think Spurs are bigger than Everton at all. Both got great fans and are always in the hunt for that fourth place. Spurs got it this year however Everton had a bad start to the season. If they had of started the season better i think they would have been right up there with Spurs.

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Vertonghen at LB? Having watched plenty of Ajax this season I can safely say this guy has it all to become a fantastic CB. I have really fallen in love with his style of play. In fact I think in time he will become a better player than Vermaelen. But I suppose there's no way you can fit 2 left footed CB's in the same team without one of them playing out of position:(

And is there something about Dembele I don't know? Because whenever I've seen him play he has never impressed me.

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

I think Everton would be a great place for Defour. I dont think Spurs are bigger than Everton at all. Both got great fans and are always in the hunt for that fourth place. Spurs got it this year however Everton had a bad start to the season. If they had of started the season better i think they would have been right up there with Spurs.

I'm no fan' date=' but Tottenham is clearly a miles ahead of Everton.

Vertonghen at LB? Having watched plenty of Ajax this season I can safely say this guy has it all to become a fantastic CB. I have really fallen in love with his style of play. In fact I think in time he will become a better player than Vermaelen. But I suppose there's no way you can fit 2 left footed CB's in the same team without one of them playing out of position:(

And is there something about Dembele I don't know? Because whenever I've seen him play he has never impressed me.

Don't agree there. Both Kompany and Vermaelen are better CB's. Vertonghen did alright at Cb this year, but he wasn't really ever tested. He's a left footed DM, but if he wants to play for Belgium ,I'd start playing the LB slot more frequently.

And Dembele is crazily gifted. Without a doubt. He has the potential to become a 20+ goalscorer in one of the big leagues, but he's stuck for about 1.5 years now. Think Ibra when he was at Ajax, only Dembele is going slower.

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

I'm no fan' date=' but Tottenham is clearly a miles ahead of Everton..[/quote']

I dont know where you got that impression. Spurs have more money to spend but Everton are a very good team with some great players. To say Spurs are miles ahead of them is ignorant.

You gotta give spurs the nod this year as they have champions league football and will be able to offer higher wages but in terms of club and potential id place Everton and Spurs in the same bracket.

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

I dont know where you got that impression. Spurs have more money to spend but Everton are a very good team with some great players. To say Spurs are miles ahead of them is ignorant.

You gotta give spurs the nod this year as they have champions league football and will be able to offer higher wages but in terms of club and potential id place Everton and Spurs in the same bracket.

I like Everton and I think they have some excellent players but I think it would be fair to say Spurs are the better team. You would consider going to Everton to gain some EPL experience and then look to moving on to a better team.

I don't think he's being ignorant tbh as Spurs have always been regarded as top 6 knocking on a top four position whilst if Everton were to finish in top 6 that would be regarded as an achievement. For me, lack of cash to spend means that only Moyes and his shrewd buys have been able to keep Everton in Top Ten as they are very much in the same league as the likes of Wigan, Sunderland and Fulham.

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Being a Villa fan, Belgium has given me two footballing highlights. The first being David Platts volley deep into extra time, Italia '90.

The second was a striker, Luc Nilis. Only played 2 games for us after Richard Wright, Ipswich GK at the time broke Lucs' leg. Nilis looked absolute class and scored an absolute belter of a goal against Chelsea, real shame when he had to retire.

Was he as big a loss for Belgium as he was for Villa?

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Regarding Defour I think a move to Everton would be good as he and Fellaini could once again link up together and play together for both club and country so they would develop a brilliant partneship. However I also heard that whilst he was injured Alex Ferguson sent him a letter hoping for him to recover this suggests to me that he wants Defour for United as why would a manager send letters to players that have nothing to do with his club and never has?

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Guest Abdel Zizi

Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Being a Villa fan' date=' Belgium has given me two footballing highlights. The first being David Platts volley deep into extra time, Italia '90.

The second was a striker, Luc Nilis. Only played 2 games for us after Richard Wright, Ipswich GK at the time broke Lucs' leg. Nilis looked absolute class and scored an absolute belter of a goal against Chelsea, real shame when he had to retire.

Was he as big a loss for Belgium as he was for Villa?[/quote']

The loss of Nilis is still a story that's told frequently. I can honestly recall only 1 event when the entire country was more in shock and that was King Baudwijn's dead in 1993. I'm not excagerating, Nilis was our God, they warned him about England and the playing style, and he got injured fast. When Nilis played at PSV, he was a stunner, equivalent of a Forlan with the "smaller" clubs. Van Nistelrooy became Van The Man thx to Nilis. Nowadays he trains attackers at PSV and does scouting work.

Regarding Defour I think a move to Everton would be good as he and Fellaini could once again link up together and play together for both club and country so they would develop a brilliant partneship. However I also heard that whilst he was injured Alex Ferguson sent him a letter hoping for him to recover this suggests to me that he wants Defour for United as why would a manager send letters to players that have nothing to do with his club and never has?

This is correct. Ferguson wrote him a get well letter begin this year.

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

I think that Everton would be a great place for Defour to go. David Moyes is one of if not THE best British manager about and he normally always gets the best out of his players. Everton have a very versatile midfield and he'd fit in nicely along side Fellaini, just look how well afro-man has done in Merseyside.

But to talk about Belgiums team of the future - it looks class. Really good thread Abdel. I enjoyed reading.

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Guest Abdel Zizi

Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Great thread Abdel. I see that you predicted Mignolet as the No.1 keeper in Euro 2012. I thought it would probably be Bailly. What makes you think that Mignolet would probably be the No.1 as he'd probably be a back-up keeper at Sunderland?

Belgium have many very talented goalies, but all U20.

Bailly has made big blunders twice for Belgium already, whilst Stijnen doesn't play for the national team anymore.

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Re: Best of Belgium - A tale of a Golden Generation

Belgium have many very talented goalies' date=' but all U20.

Bailly has made big blunders twice for Belgium already, whilst Stijnen doesn't play for the national team anymore.[/quote']

What about Anderlecht's Silvio Proto? He played pretty much all their league games last season and they had by far the best defence as they comfortably won the league. Was their good defensive record purely down to a good back line or did Proto do himself some good?

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