We are two months before the start of the World Cup in Qatar and the Red Devils already had their last match on Belgian soil. Their big goodbye match. How bizarre. The priority will of course be that winter world championship, because winning this Nations League group was no mean feat before kick-off. For that we had to count on a misstep by the Netherlands in Poland and take the victory against the Welshmen ourselves.
Full JPL Defense
It could be an extra motivation that the Final Four of the Nations League would be finished in June 2023 in Brussels and Liège if Belgium could push through, but our internationals are not awake at all about that. The Devils started off weak and aggressive against Wales. The flames on the sleeves of their hotly debated new shirts were the most fiery. Roberto Martinez nevertheless had a pretty traditional team. The team that in his eyes is the strongest and that radiates the most experience. That meant that acclaimed men like De Ketelaere and Trossard started on the bench. Zeno Debast was the only newcomer and was posted to the right in the three-man defence. For example, Belgium started with a defense that consisted entirely of Jupiler Pro League players, including Alderweireld and Vertonghen. That was already from February 9, 2005 against Egypt (0-4) ago. Then the Club boys De Cock, Clement and Simons stood next to Anderlecht player Kompany.
Anyway, the visitors who missed big names like Aaron Ramsey (Nice), Joe Allen (Swansea) and Gareth Bale started enthusiastically and the Belgians were pushed back. That will soon not be allowed in Qatar. Our great asset, however, remains that we can also hit from scratch. If Kevin De Bruyne just blinks his eyes, something can happen. That’s what happened in the quarter. Meunier sent Batshuayi away, who put the ball back and De Bruyne put the 1-0 against the nets. Master at work.
We will need this De Bruyne in Qatar, because every time he got going, there was magic in the air. It’s great to see the Man City turntable sometimes drop out and then go deep again. Once he hit the post and then the keeper again. He could have scored more, but when King Kev sent in a measured cross, Batshuayi pushed in the 2-0. The striker has already scored his 26th goal in 46 international matches.
In the absence of Lukaku, all our hopes rest mainly on Kevin De Bruyne. Martinez also gave Eden Hazard an hour to play, but the Real player is far from old. Hazard also came for the ball very deeply to make the play, but rarely flashed. Only once did a ball from him go past. Surely he must be more and more in balance with Trossard? He came in after the break.
Not the zero again
The Belgians wanted to tame their black beast from Wales and finally keep the zero again. In the last 11 international matches, the Red Devils conceded no fewer than 15 goals. With regard to Qatar, a clean sheet would give confidence. Unfortunately. Just after the break a ball was thrown in front of the goal and Zeno Debast was trumped by the giant Kieffer Moore: 2-1. Bales for the youngster who didn’t play badly, but still acted more nervously than at Anderlecht. We will also need a very strong Thibaut Courtois in Qatar to push through.
Wales did not come any further despite Bale’s substitute. The Belgian public waved goodbye to the Devils in Brussels, but the fans are a lot less confident than before the previous major tournaments. The mediocre second half was no exception. What will it be in the desert?
One last serious test will follow on Sunday, because then the Belgians will meet Orange in Amsterdam. Since the Dutch won in Poland, the group win and the final seems four away. We are certainly not going to win with three goals difference in the Johan Cruijff-ArenA. But after the 1-4 pandoering in the first leg, we still have a serious egg to peel with our northern neighbors. The Welshmen did not defend very seriously, the Orange will probably stick the knife between their teeth. Can we please take revenge?