Belgium’s third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup earned them a heroes welcome home. It was the culmination of years of improved results and increased expectations for Belgium’s “golden generation.”
As the entirety of their backline approaches the end of their international careers, EURO 2020 may be Roberto Martinez’s team’s final shot at glory. With elite talent like Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne in their ranks, you’d be a fool to write them off.
RealSport looks at how they could rate and line-up on FIFA 20.
Thibaut Courtois (OVR 90 – 88)
Club: Real Madrid
Courtois’ FIFA 19 rating was boosted by a World Cup golden glove and a high-profile move to Real Madrid. This year has been more turbulent, having battled with Keylor Navas for the starting spot at Madrid and suffered from some shaky displays. As a result, his rating should drop to 88. Courtois will be hoping that Zinedine Zidane’s return to the Bernabeu will bring both him and the team some stability.
Toby Alderweireld (OVR 87 – 86)
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Alderweireld has been heavily linked with moves away from Tottenham Hotspur for the last two summers, but after his release clause wasn’t activated, it appears he is staying put for at least another year. He may not be amongst the top three defenders in the Premier League anymore, but he’s still an extremely competent performer. At 30 years old, he’s the youngest of Belgium’s centre-back trio, and the only likely to be playing at the next World Cup.
Vincent Kompany (OVR 85 – 83)
Vincent Kompany signed off from Manchester City in style, scoring a rocket of a winner against Leicester City in the penultimate match of last season. Despite taking over as player-manager at Anderlecht, he has remained a starter for the national team. However, a disastrous start in Belgium has seen him fail to win any of his four games. If the pressure continues, it will be interesting to see if he continues to abandon Anderlecht when the national team calls.
Jan Vertonghen (OVR 87 – 87)
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Jan Vertonghen seems relatively unaffected by his 32 years of age – he’s still very reliable for Tottenham Hotspur and one of the best defenders in the Premier League. Last season also saw him perform magnificently at wing-back in the Champions League. He’ll be 35 by the next World Cup, so EURO 2020 is likely to be his final tournament with the Red Devils. His rating stays at 87.
Thomas Meunier (OVR 82 – 82)
Position: RB, RM
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Naturally a right-back, Meunier operates as a right midfielder for Belgium, which suits his attacking style. He’s entering the final year of his contract, so whether or not he’s a Paris Saint-Germain player by the Euros remains to be seen. With the departure of Dani Alves, his spot at PSG should be under little threat next year. His rating should stay at 82.
Youri Tielemans (OVR 79 – 82)
Club: Leicester City
The second half of last season saw Youri Tielemans finally begin to fulfil his well-documented potential. Joining Leicester on loan in January after a torrid spell at Monaco, he added some vital dynamism into midfield as well as the occasional goal.
The fact that Leicester have secured a permanent deal for him without any of the big names pouncing should be considered a massive coup – he’s one of the most exciting box-to-box midfielders in Europe.
Axel Witsel (OVR 85 – 85)
Position: CDM, CM
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Last season saw Axel Witsel remind the world just how good he is, after avoiding the limelight in Russia. He was central to Borussia Dortmund’s ultimately unsuccessful title charge, adding both force and creativity to the midfield. In January, his FIFA rating was given a healthy increase from 82 to 85, which is where it should stay.
Thorgan Hazard (OVR 82 – 83)
Position: RW, LW
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Thorgan Hazard will never be the most well-known Hazard in world football, but he’s still a very effective player. Like his brother Eden, he joined Chelsea as a youngster but left after a series of loans and little first-team action. He moved to Borussia Monchengladbach where he performed impressively, including 10 Bundesliga goals last season, leading to a €25 million move to Dortmund. Expect to see him start on the left side of midfield.
Kevin De Bruyne (OVR 91 – 91)
Position: CAM, CM
Club: Manchester City
Injuries ensured that De Bruyne suffered a stop-start 2018/19, but Premier League fans are already being reminded this season of how much of an elite footballer Kevin De Bruyne is. He would have walked to 2017/18 Premier League Player of the Season if it weren’t for Mohamed Salah’s breathtaking debut season, and he’s likely to be a contender this year as well. He’ll either play in the front three or in the centre of midfield if Martinez wants to start Dries Mertens. He’s truly one of the world’s best midfielders.
Romelu Lukaku (OVR 87 – 86)
Club: Inter Milan
Romelu Lukaku’s Manchester United numbers were by no means atrocious, but those who saw what he could do at Everton couldn’t help feeling disappointed. His big-money move to Inter Milan gives him an escape from a placid Manchester United attack and the opportunity to be the focal point of a side again. Theoretically, he suits Antonio Conte’s system well, so don’t be surprised to see him finding the back of the net on a regular basis again.
Eden Hazard (OVR 91 – 92)
Position: LW, CF
Club: Real Madrid
Eden Hazard’s move to Real Madrid was the most talked-about transfer of the year, and rightly so – he’s arguably the third-best player in the world right now. He provides the X factor to this Belgium side, and as long as he and De Bruyne are playing, they will always be tournament contenders. It will be fascinating to watch how he deals with the pressure and expectation of being Real Madrid’s main man. His rating should increase to 92, making him the third-best player in the game.
Off the bench
Wolfsburg’s Koen Casteels (OVR 83 – 83) will deputise for Courtois but is unlikely to threaten his starting spot.
Belgium are slightly light in terms of defensive reinforcements, but Wolves’ Leander Dendoncker (OVR 78 – 80) can provide cover in the centre of defence or midfield.
Atalanta’s Timothy Castagne (OVR 71 – 77) has enjoyed a breakout season and will challenge at right midfield, while Yannick Carrasco (OVR 83 – 82) provides competition on the left. Moussa Dembele (OVR 84 – 83) may have moved to China, but is still an option in the centre.
In Dries Mertens (OVR 87 – 86), Belgium have a quality forward option they can call upon if Martinez wants to shuffle his shape or if one of his front three are unavailable. If Michy Batshuayi (OVR 81 – 82) can get some regular game time at Chelsea, he’s also one to watch.
Belgium Predicted Lineup
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