1. Belgium has a young squad and a young team. Even with Timmy Simons starting the match in Azerbaijan, the average age of the team was 23. That shows a lack of experience.
2. No settled defence: in the eight qualifying games, the same back four has only started in two matches (the first two, both defeats). Jan Vertonghen has played in seven games and in three different positions (midfield, central defence and left back).
3. There is a dearth of top-class full backs in Belgium as opposed to central defence where there is an abundance of quality and experienced performers: Kompany, Vertonghen, Vermaelen, Lombaerts, Van Buyten. Furthermore, Toby Alderweireld often used at right back plays centrally for Ajax. Central defenders have played in both full back positions in seven of the eight games (Anderlecht’s Oliver Deschacht played in Kazakhstan).
4. Perhaps due to a lack of experience and players being selected out of position, Belgium have often conceded crucial goals late in the game. (Turkey (a) 78th minute; Austria (h) 93rd, Azerbaijan (a) 86th minute.
5. Since the beginning of the year, many players in the squad have been thinking of lucrative transfers away from the Jupiler League: Lukaku, Vossen, Ogunjimi, Witsel and Defour to name but five.
6. Leekens has often failed to make substitutions when they could have freshened up the team. The recent game in Azerbaijan was a case in point. The majority of his changes have been made after the 75th minute.
7. Injuries and suspensions have upset squad selections: during qualifying, Leekens has had to do without Defour, Fellaini and Vermaelen due to long-term injuries.
8. Leekens relationship with Eden Hazard has often taken the spotlight away from the team and has caused criticism of the coach (and player) when it was least needed.
9. Leekens has frequently played with a lone striker (in a 4-3-3 formation), one of Lukaku, Vossen or Ogunjimi. Evidence shows, though, that Lukaku (still a teenager) never looked comfortable in this role for Anderlecht, while Vossen and Ogunjimi usually play in tandem at Genk. In the two matches when Leekens opted to start with two strikers, Belgium scored a total of six goals (admittedly conceding five).
10. The current squad has frequently been referred to as the “Golden Generation”, despite the fact that they have won nothing and never qualified for a tournament. Some players have undoubtedly believed the hype. With an average age of 23, that should not come as a great surprise.