Euro 2024: New-look Belgium team heads to Germany with tempered expectations

Domenico Tedesco and his team boarded the plane to Germany on Wednesday ahead of Euro 2024, which begins on Friday. Unlike in recent tournaments, Belgium are no longer favourites to win the title and they travel with tempered expectations.

There was a time when Belgium were one of the favourites at every international tournament. That era came to an end with their humiliating group-stage exit at Qatar 2022.

As a result, the national team underwent a metamorphosis. Roberto Martinez resigned and many of the "golden generation" of players retired. Tedesco took over at the start of 2023, and his record has been impressive so far: 10 wins, four draws and no defeats.

However, apart from a 2-2 friendly draw with England in March, the Red Devils have yet to be tested against a top European side. That will not change in the group stage in Germany, where they face Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine. The team's first real test will come in the Round of 16, where, if they progress from the group stage, they could face the likes of Spain, Italy or Croatia.

Weak defence, strong attack

They'll have to contend with a weakened defence. Thibaut Courtois, arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, will be absent in Germany due to a dispute with Tedesco. Thomas Meunier was injured in last week's friendly against Luxembourg, leaving Belgium without a proper right-back, while centre-backs Jan Vertonghen and Arthur Theate are only just returning from injury.

However, Tedesco has perhaps the most dangerous attacking line-up of the tournament at his disposal, led by Kevin De Bruyne in top form. Romelu Lukaku is as fit as ever, and if Belgium's all-time top scorer can't find the net, the likes of Arsenal's Leandro Trossard, Manchester City's Jérémy Doku and RB Leipzig's Loïs Openda should.

It will be the forwards that determine how far Tedesco takes the team on his tournament debut. While surviving the group stage should be easy, predicting the Red Devils' fate in the knockout rounds is almost impossible.

Host nation Germany open the competition on Friday evening against Scotland. Belgium play their first game on Monday evening against Slovakia.



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