Pedigree It would be easy to dismiss this generation of Belgian players as a disappointment; they have spent almost a decade, after all, being hailed as contenders to win a major trophy. They might not have won one, but they made the semifinals in 2018, and have spent most of the last four years ranked as the best team in the world. That’s not bad.
The Story Belgium’s bright young prospects have, by now, grown gray and old. Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Jan Vertonghen are all now the high side of 30, and Romelu Lukaku and Yannick Carrasco are hurtling toward that line. This could be one tournament too many, or it could be a glorious last hurrah.
Key Question For the first time in years, it does not feel as if Belgium enters the tournament under any particular pressure. Roberto Martínez’s team has not been mentioned as a possible winner. Hazard and Lukaku have been cast as yesterday’s men. Could that be a blessing?