There is plenty of drama in the Belgium national team. The Red Devils have not lived up to the billing at the Qatar World Cup. Most fans tipped Belgium as one of the dark horses to win the Mundial, but as it is, there is a high likelihood they could be on the next plane home after the group-stage matches.
The highly-ranked team is clearly on its last legs, and Roberto Martinez must take a bit of flack for the drama on his side. With the number of upsets and shocks at the Qatar World Cup, it is no longer surprising that there is acrimony in the Belgian camp. The discord in the team has also spread to the country’s capital Brussels.
There has been a subtle but direct war of words between some of the team’s leaders. After the game against Morocco, it came to the fore again. The actors in this drama are Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Jan Vertonghen. They have traded words, with Vertonghen clapping back at Hazard and De Bruyne.
Saudi Arabia set the tone for the World Cup with a 2-1 defeat of tournament favourite Argentina. Germany fell to Japan 2-1 before Japan lost to lowly-rated Costa Rica. On Sunday evening, Morocco dealt Belgium what may be a mortal blow at the World Cup, and it has opened up the wounds in the team.
Before the game against Morocco, Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne predicted what could be their fate at the World Cup. The Manchester City henchman wrote off the chances of Belgium winning the World. He said the team was too old. Belgium has the oldest average of any squad in Qatar.
De Bruyne told The Guardian that the Red Devils had no chance as they were too old. He rated the 2018 squad better and said Belgium were outsiders. Hazard was more direct in his potshots. He aimed at the Belgium defenders saying they were not the fastest.
Following the loss to Morocco, Vertonghen has aimed a barb at his two long-time team-mates, suggesting that it is not only the defence that is getting old. In the mixed zone after the match, the former Tottenham defender said perhaps they attack badly because their attack is too old.
Things have not gone to script for Belgium at the World Cup. The war of words in the team is not helping. They need to get a grip on themselves and shelf the pettiness threatening to swallow them. The clap-back by Jan Vertonghen has added fuel to an already volatile situation.
Belgium struggled past Canada in their first game. They were lucky to get a win as the Canadian side put them under intense pressure. Their luck ran out against Morocco, who were decent in their 2-0 win. The goals came through Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Aboukhlal.
With Croatia beating Canada later on Sunday 4-1, Belgium has slipped to third and needs to beat Croatia to make it to the next round.