Belgium drop points and go level with the Balkan Two

By | September 12, 2012

After two matches, Belgium are level on points with Croatia and Serbia at the top of the World Cup qualifying group. They had hoped for two victories – Wales in Cardiff, Croatia in Brussels – but it was

Marc Wilmots and Guillaume Gillet, whose goal earned Belgium a point agaunst Croatia.

not to be. A defensive error against Croatia, one that was almost repeated later in the game, and an inability for strikers to strike meant that precious home points were dropped.
Marc Wilmots was fully supportive of his team after the Croatia match saying they dominated throughout and could have won with a bit of luck. His words were eerily reminiscent of Roy Hodgson’s after England had an identical result with Ukraine; they both said their team had done nothing wrong and they’d seen many good things.
It’s understandable that coaches will defend their players as they’ll have to work with the majority of them in the coming months but, for both Belgium and England, it now appears they could well be looking at second place in their groups. They have almost identical tasks, while England face Ukraine away and two games with Poland, Belgium must go to Croatia and have a couple of meetings with Serbia.
Belgium did enough to win in Cardiff and their task was made much easier when the home team was reduced to 10 men after just 25 minutes. Against Wales, both Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku were tried at the point of the attack but neither impressed. Christian Benteke was given 90 minutes against the Croats and simply confirmed that while he will always give 100%, he’s too raw for international, and perhaps Premier League, football.
It’s to be hoped that one of these two – or perhaps Monchengladbach’s Igor De Camargo, Genk’s Jelle Vossen or even Benteke’s replacement at Genk, Benjamin De Ceulaer – will blossom in the coming months. Currently though, it’s not obvious where the goals will come from. All three in the qualifiers were scored by defenders (Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen and Anderlecht’s Guillaume Gillet) and they can’t be expected to carry the team all through the group stage.
In midfield, Marc Wilmots is still looking for the right blend and it’s worrying that most of Belgium’s goals – and opportunities – are coming from dead-ball situations. Finally, Eden Hazard remains an enigma in a Belgian shirt. Brilliant with Lille and so far with Chelsea, he’s never achieved much with the international team. Perhaps he needs someone who’s on the same wavelength and yesterday that was Dries Mertens, but all their best work was done wide on the left flank. At Lille, Yohan Cabaye was instrumental in Hazard’s success and the Belgian does seem to have developed a good relationship with Juan Mata at Chelsea. Maybe when Kevin De Bruyne matures and gets his chance, Hazard will find his partner-in-crime and they will start to steal the headlines. Until then, the Red Devils could be chasing their dreams.

4 thoughts on “Belgium drop points and go level with the Balkan Two

  1. far

    tbh,as a red devils fan, I’m not too impressed with Benteke for the time being,,,I wish Wilmots call Vossen for the next qualifying match. People may think think this is a joke,Ogunjimi could be another option though I think he was ‘lost in the middle of nowhere’.. anyway, for me, it should be Vossen..

    1. Belgofoot Post author

      Benteke is not ready. I think he improved a lot after joining Genk but the move to the Premier League – that he forced through – came far too soon. Ogunjimi took a similar ‘dash for cash’ and is now paying the price. Vossen is a player who I think has really matured but apparently Wilmots does not rate him highly. Thanks for comments.

  2. Jonas

    Vossen is scoring almost every weekly. The most natural finisher Wilmots could have in his squad. Should really be called upon at the expense of De Camargo and maybe even start games imo. Especially when younger players as Lukaku and Benteke are available. It remains a pity of course that Tchité is still not eligible to play. He would really be a quality player until Lukaku has established himself in the PL.

    Good point about De Bruyne linking up with Hazard. They are of another level than all the others in midfield/attack. Strange again that we are still waiting for De Bruyne to receive his first start.

    It is a bit worrying Wilmots does not seem to choose for a first choice 11. Defour was chosen in a man-marking role against Croatia but can be much more. He is the only one in midfield with the stamina and leadership to pull the strings and set out the lines. Just like he did at Standard with Witsel and Fellaini in front of him.

    Right back does remain a problem. Pity Wilmots is not considering playing Pocognoli there. Yes, he’s left footed, but a specialist in that position and technically enough gifted to play there. A bit like Lahm who also plays on both wings and is also that type of very mobile player.

    On Wilmots: rather positively surprised as I was expecting a disaster like all his previous coaching experiences. He’s not really been tested yet tactically. He’s complaining about not having a finisher, but like his predecessor Leekens he only starts with one striker and as such scoring goals remains difficult for the Belgians.

    1. Belgofoot Post author

      Thanks for comments. I don’t agree with anything you say. I was somewhat disappointed with Wilmots after the Croatia game as he seemed to be saying – my team played well, did nothing wrong, you can’t criticise them. That doesn’t bode well for the future.


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