Football

UEFA Euro 2016! Can Belgium finally live up to Expectations?

UEFA Euro 2016! Can Belgium finally live up to Expectations? :- The Belgium national squad consists of some of the most talented players in Euro 2016, and they are finally starting to gel as a team. With a reasonably favourable route to the final, can they make a name for themselves on the world stage and lift the trophy?

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Belgium lost to Italy in their opening Group E game, but recovered remarkably by sealing two convincing wins in their remaining games against the Republic of Ireland and Sweden. Marc Wilmot’s side finished level on points with the same goal difference as Italy, but ended the group in second because of the loss to Antonio Conte’s men. It turns out that this loss was a blessing in disguise, as Belgium won a last-16 tie with Hungary, whereas the Italians drew Spain, one of the favourites to win the tournament. Belgium are now at odds of 5/4 in the Euro 2016 betting to reach the final.

Belgium displayed the wealth of talent they have at their disposal in the emphatic dumping of the unlikely Group F winners. Eden Hazard put in a performance to remind the world why he was voted player of the year in 2015. The Chelsea playmaker endured a dismal Premier League season where he suffered a severe lapse in confidence. It looks as though he has found his mojo again, though, just when it matters most. Literally doing the job of two players, he ran to collect his own pass to square a precision cross into MichyBatshuayi who had no problem burying the ball in the back of the net. The icing on the cake for the number-10 was when he put away a world-class finish of his own to seal Hungary’s demise.

Although Hungary are more favourable opponents than Spain on paper, Bernd Storck’s side went into the clash unbeaten, and on the back of a mouth-watering performance in the 3-3 thriller against Portugal. These were opponents who were clearly relishing the opportunity to play in the tournament but they came up against a Belgium team who are starting to click.

Hazard was the star performer in Toulouse, but some of his teammates also put in tantalising displays. Kevin De Bruyne, such a key protagonist at Manchester City, was pulling the strings in this tie, and could have been man of the match if not for Hazard stealing the limelight. His beautiful ball in to Toby Alderweireld created the first goal, but he couldn’t find the net himself, hitting the crossbar on one occasion from a stunning free kick. Alderweireld not only scored the opener, but also lead the line well at the back, helping Belgium to their third successive clean sheet.

In the quarter-finals, Wilmot’s men come up against an ambitious Wales side who are playing with no pressure, but it’s a tie they would choose if given the option. Should they win that match they would then go on to face either Portugal or Poland, and there is a real sense that this set of players can now go all the way. Belgium could be poised to become one of the European powerhouses, and finally live up to expectations.

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