Since 2012, the Red Devils have met Wales time and again in their path. The first encounter turned out to be a smooth win, but over time Wales increasingly turned out to be the black beast of our national team. Only two of the eight times have the Devils been victorious in recent years. “But that is not due to the playing style of Wales”, says ex-assistant national coach Vital Borkelmans (59).
The Red Devils have looked Wales in the eye eight times in the last decade. The balance looks very thin, with only two wins, four difficult draws and two defeats. The low point was the painful elimination in the quarter-finals of the European Championship 2016, but according to Vital Borkelmans, who was then assistant to national coach Marc Wilmots, that defeat does not play a specific role.
Borkelmans started his stint as assistant to Wilmots with the national team with a 0-2 win against Wales in the World Cup qualifiers in early September 2012. “An easy win”, he recalls. However, some against the Welsh, because after that the Devils bit their teeth under the care of Wilmots and Borkelmans four times on Wales. The black beast was born. Borkelmans still does not have a precise reason why the Belgians have had such a hard time against Wales ever since. “It’s always hard to say.” According to him, it was not due to the style of play or the tactics of Wales. “They are three in the back and play with high rising wings. But that’s how many countries and teams play football. That was nothing new.”
“Sometimes it just happens that as a club or country you have trouble with a certain opponent without any apparent reason,” continues Borkelmans. “I have experienced it myself as a footballer. Or I still remember the classic black October month with Club Brugge. And suddenly it passed. There is no explanation for that. I think after a defeat it’s something psychological that subconsciously reappears the next time. If the press also starts to speak of a black beast, it will subconsciously creep even more into your head. Because players and trainers also read the media. For the opponent, something like this is an extra incentive.”
Meanwhile, the last win against Wales dates back to the end of March last year. During the World Cup qualification, the Devils won 3-1 at home, but current national coach Roberto Martinez was not able to tame the black beast for the time being, because then two difficult draws followed. Wait and see if the Devils turn the tide tonight.
7/09/2012 World Cup qualification Wales-Belgium 0-2
15/10/2013 World Cup qualification Belgium-Wales 1-1
16/11/2014 European Championship qualification Belgium-Wales 0-0
12/06/2015 European Championship qualification Wales-Belgium 1-0
1/07/2016 Quarterfinals European Championship Wales-Belgium 3-1
24/03/2021 World Cup qualification Belgium-Wales 3-1
16/11/2021 Wales-Belgium World Cup qualification 1-1
11/06/2022 Nations League Wales-Belgium 1-1