Belgium to Win Euro 2016 Odds
Believe it or not, Belgium are at their first European Championship finals after the joint host competition with their neighbors Netherlands back in 2000. Sixteen years passed until Belgium national football team to qualify for the UEFA Euro finals and this will happen on French turf, where Belgium played for the last time when they reached the finals through qualifiers. Current generation of Belgian footballers forms one massively strong squad and Marc Wilmots has the privilege to take pretty serious place in the establishment of that new "golden generation". Marc Wilmots was in Robert Waseige's selection for UEFA Euro 2000 and current manager of "The Red Devils" can boast with very impressive national team career, as the former Belgian midfielder, who can meanwhile boast with 70 international caps and 28 goals scored with the national team jersey, also became the unifying figure in Belgium. Under his management Belgium has qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup which was their first major event since the World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea, where Wilmots was once again in the 2002 World Cup squad and his presence was significant - scoring a goal in all Belgian games. Impressive record for Marc Wilmots and he successfully accomplish the same results as Belgian coach, since Belgium reached the quarter-finals in Brazil and two years later "The Red Devils" made it to Pot 1 of the Euro 2016 finals draw
, where Belgium was situated at the expense of Italy. Wonderful achievement for Marc Wilmots' men as they finished on top of UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group B, where Belgium was alongside Wales, Bosnia and Herzegovina
, Israel, Cyprus and Andorra - one of the most competitive and intriguing groups in the qualifiers at all. However, Belgian national team has met all expectations and they ended above all - with 23 points from all games, with 24 goals scored against 5 conceded. Positive record for Belgium as their only defeat came in Wales
, in the relevant visit in Cardiff - narrow success for the squad largely influenced by Gareth Bale, who netted the winning goal in that game.
Euro 2016 squads: Belgium team preview
Except being one of the teams qualified to Euro 2016 as group winners, Belgium became one of the first nations to name its 23 players selection when on 12 may 2016 Marc Wilmots has announced his call ups. Iceland made it few days earlier and Belgium followed, well with one player more - to 24, also with one very surprising call up for most of the football fans - Celtic's defender Dedryck Boyata is in the squad, although he closes one very controversial first season in the Scottish champions. Divock Origi is in the pre-tournament squad and we guess that the final 23 men who will travel for France mostly depend on his fitness, as if Liverpool's striker isn't ready on time, there are players like Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Christian Benteke, Michy Batshuayi, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Dries Mertens in the list.
Belgium's best possible Euro 2016 lineup: Thibaut Courtois - Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Laurent Ciman - Mousa Dembélé, Axel Witsel - Eden Hazard (c), Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco - Romelu Lukaku. (4-2-3-1)
Except these 24 players officially announced, there are few more waiting on stand-by as Matz Sels, Laurens De Bock, Guillaume Gillet, Laurent Ciman, Kevin Mirallas, Thorgan Hazard and Nacer Chadli
are all ready for international duty.
Belgium will attack their fifth ever European Championship finals with very balanced squad and productive preparation, as their qualifying group required specific efforts and dedication in each moment of it, since Belgium had some really serious opponents who were all motivated to slip "The Red Devils". Nevertheless, Marc Wilmots can be proud of the production of his players and he surely knows who suits perfectly to his game plan at the upcoming march to France. Undoubtedly the biggest blow for Belgian team comes from the permanent injuries of the captain Vincent Kompany as a result of which Man City's defender missed huge part of the season and the last injury came during the Champions League
semi-finals against Real Madrid. Well, Kompany misses Euro 2016 and we're sure that everyone in Belgium, and all football fans at all, regret about that injury, but however, Marc Wilmots still has one great national pool with solid squad depth.
Thibaut Courtois is surely the first-choice goalkeeper for Belgium as despite the not so effective season at "Stamford Bridge", Chelsea's goalkeeper still looks as the most decent choice, with backups like Simon Mignolet and oldest player in Belgian squad - Jean-François Gillet, who is one of the very few players aged over 30 and he'll turn 37 in the days before UEFA Euro 2016
In defense, in Kompany's absence, Tottenham's centre-back duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen looks like very potential starting choice of Marc Wilmots. Defenders like Nicolas Lombaerts, Jordan Lukaku, Jason Denayer, Björn Engels, Thomas Meunier, Thomas Vermaelen and the above mentioned Dedryck Boyata fill the defensive options of Marc Wilmots and this looks like very unpredictable build up. Indeed, Belgium has few friendlies before the main events, as their Euro 2016 preparation will be closed after three scheduled games against teams like Switzerland, Finland and Norway. Most likely Marc Wilmots will take some final decisions after these games where he'll rotate a lot. And that's pretty logically, if we consider what impressive and concurrent squad he has.
In midfield Belgium has few players at the same age and they're all in really mature football age - between 27 and 28 years. All of them are first team players in their clubs and Axel Witsel, Marouane Fellaini, Radja Nainggolan, Mousa Dembélé are set to compete for the potential two central-midfield positions in the potential 4-2-3-1 formation regularly used by Marc Wilmots.
Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard have both scored 5 goals during the qualifiers as Marouane Fellaini finished with 4 goals. Dries Mertens netted three, Radja Nainggolan twice, while other players from the squad like Michy Batshuayi, Christian Benteke and Divock Origi contributed with one goal for Belgium, as well as some players who aren't in the initial selection - Nacer Chadli and Laurent Depoitre.
Belgium's Euro 2016 fixtures and schedule
With the already described quality we find in Belgium's attack, Marc Wilmots can be pretty encouraged that his team can claim for something bigger, although Belgium is in one of the trickiest Euro 2016 groups
. Truly, Belgium shares UEFA Euro 2016 Group E next to teams of Italy, Sweden and Republic of Ireland, as their Pot 1 position requires proper results, if they want to justify the high coefficient gained in the last few years.
Belgium will face two of their old European Championship rivals as back in the home competition, Euro 2000, Belgium was in the seeded teams and the finals draw awarded them in Group B where "The Red Devils" were with their first and last current group opponents, respectively Italy and Sweden, while the other team in UEFA Euro 2000 Group B was Turkey - another potential opponent, but for the elimination phase.
Belgium has some old scores to settle dating from their host competition remained in history as UEFA Euro 2000
Belgium have started their Euro 2000 campaign with a clash against Sweden when "King Baudouin Stadium" in Brussels staged the opening ceremony and the glorious 2:1 win of Belgium remains their last ever victory at European Championship finals. It was followed by two defeats at the same stadium where Belgium lost with 0:2 in both of them - against Turkey and Italy. That actually ended their home tournament participation and this time "The Red Devils" are eager for something bigger, motivated from their 2014 World Cup result.
Belgium made it to the last 8 worldwide only two summers ago but this time location is different and their French summer will begin in Lyon, where the newly built "Parc Olympique Lyonnais" will host their match against Italy
, where Belgium will seek a revenge for that home defeat. After their Euro 2016 opening match, Belgium travels on west - to Bordeaux, where Republic of Ireland
will be their second opponent.
Last, hopefully not in the tournament, match in Group E will be replay of the Euro 2000 opening game and this time Sweden
will hope to slip Belgium on "Allianz Riviera" in Nice. Certainly another tough challenge for Marc Wilmots' men but we simply find extraordinary quality in the Belgian squad and we can't see how Belgium will fail to qualify for the knockout phase, but who knows. However, our thoughts are that if the further draw is good, Belgium
have very good chance to reach the final four at UEFA Euro 2016.