Belgium is getting prepared for the European Championship, having playing two friendlies against European sides. The first friendly was won (1-2) away against Switzerland and the last one was a disappointing 1-1 draw against Finland. There is a lot of discussion going around Marc Wilmots’ Belgium first team choices for the Euro 2016. Firstly, is Eden Hazard the right man to replace the injured Kompany as captain of the team? My opinion is no, as he does not possess the enthusiasm needed to bring out the best out of his teammates. More importantly, Hazard needs to worry about stepping up his game first since he had an underwhelming season at Chelsea which was emphasised by a lack of confidence. The other big discussion is the defensive line which has shown to be very vulnerable in the last two friendlies. Belgium has lost Kompany, Bjorn Engels, Boyata and Lombaerts due to injuries and are now counting on Alderweireld, Denayer, Vermaelen and Vertonghen as defensive line. Instead of using The Spurs duo Alderweireld and Vertonghen as central backs, they are used as full backs under Wilmots and this has shown to lead to some problems.
Anyways, in football the only thing that really matters is to score one more than your opponent and so this article will analyse our strikers: Lukaku, Batshuayi, Benteke and Origi.
Romelu Lukaku: The Pace & Power striker
- Market value: £26.25m
- Age: 23
- Height: 1.9 m
- Weight: 94 kg
Big Rom had a good season at Everton, scoring 25 goals overall. In the Premier League, he scored 18 goals in the premier league, just missing out on the top 3 top scorers of as Kane (25), Aguero (24) and Vardy (24) beat him. There are rumours going around that Lukaku could be reunited with Mourinho at Manchester United. The striker is keen on a move away from Everton as believes it is time to think about his “CV” and join a prestigious team with the ambition of winning the league title and ultimately the Champions League. Lukaku will therefore be extra motivated to do well during the Euros and show the European public that he is indeed a top striker. Recently, Marc Wilmots, admitted that Lukaku would be the main striker for the Euros. In the 2014 World Cup, Lukaku could not impress and it was ultimately Divock Origi that stole the show. Now, let’s hope that Lukaku’s pace and power will lead him to be a protagonist in Belgium’s route to win the European cup.
Michy Batshuayi: The Poacher
- Market value: Market value: £10.50m
- Age: 22
- Height: 1.82 m
- Weight: 78 kg
Michy Batshuayi also known as “Batsman” scored overall 23 goals this season for Marseille. Similarly to Lukaku, he holds the fourth-top scorer position in the Ligue 1 this season with 17 goals. This is particularly impressive since Marseille has been struggling this season, being only 13th place. Michy had his international debut against Cyprus, where he scored after just 3 minutes of being on the pitch. Wilmots will definitely give the youngster the chance. Batshuayi, the typical poacher, is much more involved in the game than Lukaku. He is particularly good in bringing his teammates into play. Moreover, Wilmots can benefit from Michy’s deadly finishing and his great dribbling ability. Batshuayi will definitely have an impact with the Belgian Red Devils, the questions is if he will get the chance to do this now already.
Christian Benteke: The man in the air
- Market value: £22.50m
- Age: 25
- Height: 1.91 m
- Weight: 83 kg
Christian had a difficult season with Liverpool, scoring only 9 goals in the premier league and taking place on the bench for most of the games. Benteke doesn’t want to leave Liverpool though as he is hoping to improve and regain the confidence of Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp. Now, Benteke was supposed to be the main striker in the World Cup two years ago but ultimately he picked up a thigh injury, leaving him out of the competition. Fortunately for Belgium he is now fit to lead Belgium through the European cup. However, Benteke is not in top form and misses match rhythm which will make it hard for him to convince Wilmots he deserves a start. The advantage he gives over Belgium’s other strikers is his aerial ability as he often scores from headers. Moreover, he can use his strength to protect the ball and open up spaces for his teammates. This could be particularly useful for Belgium since the formation up top is one lone striker linked with two wingers.
Divock Origi: The Joker
- Market value: £6.75m
- Age: 21
- Height: 1.86m
- Weight: 75 kg
The Liverpool striker spend most of this season on the bench. At the end of the season though, with Klopp as manager, Origi found himself in superior form again scoring 5 goals in total for Liverpool this season. Origi impressed two years ago, when he became Belgium’s youngest ever scorer at a World Cup. The youngster has a blistering pace and thrives on one-on-one scenarios with his great dribbling skills. He also has a tendency to drift wide in games and this is why Wilmots opt to use him as winger in the friendly against Finland. Origi’s weakness is that his decision-making lets him down too often and that he needs to be more clinical in front of goal. I expect Wilmots to use Divock as a Joker in slower games, where he could shake things up and use his pace and dribbling skills.
Overall, we can say that Lukaku is expected to start all games and be our top goal scorer in the European Championship. If he will take his chances he will likely secure a transfer to a top side like Manchester United. Batshuayi, Origi and Benteke will have their chances too to come in and make a difference as substitutes.
On another note, BBC announced recently that Vincent Kompany will go to France but rather than playing football, he will join the BBC punditry team (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/36415794).
Finally, we can look forwards to our last friendly game on Sunday which will be against Norway.
Stay tuned for our next analysis.
Long live Belgium! Vive la Belgique! Leve België!
By Roy Skop