Belgium World Cup 2022 results, squad list, fixtures and latest odds




Belgium World Cup 2022 results, squad list, fixtures and latest odds - GETTY IMAGES
Belgium World Cup 2022 results, squad list, fixtures and latest odds - GETTY IMAGES  

First up was Timothy Castagne, who admitted the pressure was getting to Belgium's golden generation as they bid to salvage a likely last shot at glory and put confidence levels at "six or seven" out of 10. Then out came Roberto Martinez, who accused the country's media of doubling down on a dirty tricks campaign started by their French counterparts and designed to divide his squad. Elsewhere, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was vowing to root out and banish the "mole" spreading stories about bust-ups in the Belgian camp.

The fall-out from Sunday's tumultuous 2-0 defeat by Morocco was still being keenly felt as Belgium prepared for their decisive final Group F game against Croatia on Thursday, one they simply have to win to stay in the tournament and prevent this week's inquest from turning into a longer, more painful post-mortem.

Kevin De Bruyne could not have imagined what he was starting when he said at the weekend, in advance of the Morocco match, that Belgium have "no chance" of winning the World Cup because they are "too old" and that their best chance came and went in Russia four years ago when they finished third.

Two days later, and just hours after that capitulation against Morocco when Eden Hazard had also waded into the age debate by admitting "our defenders are not the fastest and they know that", a report in the French sports newspaper, L'Equipe, surfaced, since when all hell seems to have broken loose. The 35-year-old defender Jan Vertonghen was alleged to have confronted De Bruyne and Hazard over their remarks and only the intervention of Romelu Lukaku prevented the spat from turning ugly.

The Belgian squad convened a team meeting over a barbeque the next day to try to iron out their differences and, in further attempt to quell tensions, deflect the pressure and reapportion blame, Martinez went on the offensive on Wednesday with quite the conspiracy theory.

"There are many World Cups getting played and you could see maybe a country like France did a very good job with a story [in L'Equipe] that became the main topic of conversation in Belgium," the Belgium coach said. "Whoever has come up with it has scored a great own goal for Belgium. If I'm an opponent and can weaken another side in the tournament I would do that as a journalist."

Martinez was not done there, though, and rounded on the Belgian media for picking up the story and running with it in what felt like a rather desperate attempt to forge a siege mentality among a group that, as Castagne admitted, have not been as unified as they should be.

"We have some outlets in Belgium that are quite happy to jump on fake news," Martinez fumed. "That's quite astonishing. It showed you that there is maybe more desire to find negative news around this team than really get this nation together and enjoy the talent of the best generation we have ever had in Belgium football. And probably that was a lesson for all of us - that we are here on our own. I think it's made the group more aware that the less you listen to the noise from the outside news the better. Hopefully the fans - real fans - of the Red Devils can enjoy the process."

All is not quite well with Belgium, though, and 10 minutes in the company of Castagne underlined as much. "I think we were a group already, united but perhaps not enough," the Leicester defender said. "If you want to go far in a World Cup then you need to be united and you need to be able to fight for your team-mates and maybe we weren't showing that enough so I think the meeting was very helpful."

The Morocco defeat followed a lucky 1-0 win over Canada and Castagne said they had been paying too much attention to the doubters. "We let that criticism affect us," he said. "We heard people say we weren't a golden generation and started asking ourselves questions and doubting ourselves."

Where would he put confidence levels out of 10 going into the Croatia game? Confidence level - I would say six or seven," he said.

And De Bruyne's remarks? "I think maybe that is true to a certain extent and that is why we had to talk about it in a team meeting to thrash these issues out," Castagne added, before adding the caveat that age was not obstacle to Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci winning Euro 2020 with Italy last summer. No one, though, had the heart to remind him Italy had failed to qualify for this World Cup. "Age is not the problem and I think we have sorted out the issues in the camp," Castagne said, insisting the meeting had not constituted "crisis" talks and "no insults" were hurled.

Seven of the team that started against Morocco were in their thirties. Having come on as a late substitute in the game, his first taste of football for a month, Lukaku is expected to replace Michy Batshuayi in attack against Croatia, the 2018 beaten finalists.

Much like successive England managers were blamed for failing to extract the most from its own golden generation, Martinez has often stood accused of underachieving with this crop of players. But, regardless of what Belgium go on to achieve in Qatar, the Spaniard claimed their legacy was already assured.

"They got the bronze medal in 2018, they kept the national team in the No. 1 spot in the world rankings for four years despite being a nation of 11 million," Martinez said. "Twenty one of them have got their [Uefa] A [coaching] licences. This generation are going to carry on affecting Belgian football from a coaching perspective for the next 20 years.

"What you can say is this generation has not won a major tournament but leaving a legacy goes a lot further than winning a tournament. I'm sure you can find national teams who won tournaments and don't leave legacies. This group of players deserves respect and admiration for what they have done and from here they can win, draw or lose but the legacy of this generation … the next 20 years of Belgium football will never be the same because of this generation."

Belgium World Cup 2022 squad

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Koen Casteels

Defenders: Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Wout Faes, Arthur Theate, Zeno Debast, Thomas Meunier, Timothy Castagne

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, Youri Tielemans, Amadou Onana, Axel Witsel, Hans Vanaken, Leander Dendoncker, Yannick Carrasco, Thorgan Hazard

Forwards: Eden Hazard, Charles De Ketelaere, Leandro Trossard, Dries Mertens, Jeremy Doku, Romelu Lukaku, Michy Batshuayi, Lois Openda

Who is their best player?

Belgium's stars include Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku.

De Bruyne was awarded the player of the match accolade against Canada, but our readers rated goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois as Belgium's best player during the game.

What are Belgium's results and fixtures?

Group F

November 23: Belgium 1 Canada 0

November 27: Belgium 0 Morocco 2

December 1: Croatia vs Belgium

What is Belgium's World Cup record?

Belgium's best World Cup finish came in the last edition of the tournament. They secured third place at Russia 2018 after beating England in the play-off, bettering their previous highest finish of fourth in 1986. Belgium first qualified for the tournament in 1930 and will compete in it for the 14th time this winter.

Argentina | Australia | Belgium | Brazil | Cameroon | Canada | Costa Rica | Croatia | Denmark | Ecuador | England | France | Germany | Ghana | Iran | Japan | Mexico | Morocco | Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Senegal | Serbia | South Korea | Spain | Switzerland | Tunisia | Uruguay | USA | Wales

Latest odds

Lukaku to claim the Golden Boot? Find the latest top scorer odds here

Belgium are currently a best price of 80/1 to win World Cup 2022.

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