Lakenheath Old Boys

We are all former students at Lakenheath High School and other public schools in East Anglia. We were in school in the 70s and 80s and drank deeply from the well of British culture of those decades - the pints, the telly, and of course the footie!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Euro 2016 Preview - Group E: Belgium

Continuing with Group E, the Group of Death for this summer's tournament, and Belgium.

Nickname: "De Rode Duivels" ("The Red Devils")

Absurd FIFA ranking: 2nd!

Coach: Former national team hero Marc Wilmots

Match Schedule: 

June 13 - Belgium v. Italy (Lyon, 3pm EST, ESPN)
June 18 - Belgium v. Republic of Ireland (Bordeaux, 9am ESPN)
June 22 - Belgium v. Sweden (Nice, 3pm, ESPN)

Prospects: The Belgians come into this tournament in red hot form, having swept their qualification group and with a record high FIFA ranking of 2nd. They've got a squad full of glittering superstars who are gracing teams all over Europe. What could go wrong? Well, lots of things. The back-line may rue the loss skipper Vincent Kompany, who will miss out on France 2016 due to injury. Moreover, Belgium have the feel of Manchester City, a side that, on paper, should win every match and yet...doesn't. This could be their moment, yet, if they fail to gel again, as they have in the past, Belgian could flatter to deceive once again.

Key Player: Chelsea Goalkeeper Thibault Courtois, if he's at his best, he could see Belgium through some sticky matches in the knock-out rounds, which is usually key to a side advancing to the latter stages. Belgium are likely to thrill fans in the group matches, but they'll need to "win ugly" in order to lift the trophy in Paris in July.

Youngster to Watch: Belgium have one of the most impressively young squads in the tournaments, so there are plenty to choose from on this front. My choice - Liverpool's 21 year-old striker Divock Origi. This could be his moment.

Who Will Get the Goals: Wilmots could easily go balls-out in attack by playing Kevin de Bruyne out wide right, Atletico's Yannick Carrasco out wide left, Christian Benteke and Romelu Lukaku as a strike partnership and Eden Hazard in the hole (cor!) and I hope he does. Goals should flow from this lot, but it's got to be The Chunk (Lukaku) who will score most of the goals and is a decent pick for Golden Boot.

Who Will Get the Cards: As he proved in that epic slug-fest with Chelsea, Toby Alderweireld is a chippy little sod.

Prediction: Their opener with Italy is likely to be the match of the group stages. I predict that Belgium will win that day and will top the group, leaving Italy to scramble to qualify in the other matches. Top spot will bring on a fairly easy contest with a side such as Croatia in the Round of 16. Yet, get through that hazard and Belgium step off a cliff in the Quarters when they run into current World Champions and presumptive favorites Germany. I can't see them getting beyond that stage.

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