How Has Belgium Performed in Previous World Cups?
In 2015, Belgium became the second nation in history to top the World Rankings without having won a World Cup. Despite having never won an international football competition, outside of the Olympic gold medals that they won in the 1920 summer Olympics, Belgium have had one of the best national football teams since the mid-2010s.
Belgium was amongst the entrants in the inaugural World Cup held in 1930. There were only 13 entrants in this competition, with only 3 other European teams in the tournament. This was because the first World Cup was held in Uruguay, and the travel that was needed for European teams at the time was far beyond the budget of most national teams. In this tournament, Belgium lost both their games in the group stage, finishing at the bottom without having scored a single game, thus crashing out of the competition.
The following World Cup, held in 1934 in Italy, saw Belgium enter once more, but there they faced Germany, who knocked them out in the first round 5-2. In 1938, Belgium were knocked out in the first round once again, this time in a 3-1 loss to France.
In the next three World Cups that Belgium entered in 1954, 1970, and 1982, they fared no better as the team was knocked out in the group stage. In 1986, Belgium managed to improve their World Cup record as they narrowly passed the group stage. They finished third in a group, which was comprised of Paraguay, Iraq, and the host nation, Mexico. In the round of 16, Belgium faced the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union took the lead in the 27th minute, and they went into the half leading 1-0. In the second half, Belgium managed to equalise, but the Soviets scored once more. 7 minutes later, Belgium equalised once more and then the match finished 2-2. The game went into extra time, and Belgium did the unthinkable when they scored two goals. The Soviets converted a penalty in the 111th minute, but it was not enough to take the win. Belgium advanced to the quarterfinals, where they faced Spain. The match finished 1-1, and after two goalless periods of extra time, the match went into a penalty shootout. Here, the Belgians scored all their penalties and saved one Spanish penalty to win the round. In the semi-finals, Belgium faced Argentina, who ended the Belgians’ great run. They played against France three days later for the third place playoff, but lost the match 4-2, putting them in fourth place.
Though the Belgians managed to reach the round of 16 in the 1990, 1994, and 2002 editions of the World Cup, they never replicated their great run of 1986 until 2018. Belgium did not qualify for the World Cups held in 2006 and 2010, but returned to the competition in 2014. They had an impressive run for a team that missed out on two World Cups, reaching the quarter finals after having topped their group and beaten the United States in the round of 16. Argentina was the team that ended the Belgian’s run in 2014, upsetting the nation for a second time in the World Cup.
In 2018, Belgium entered the World Cup and were put in a group with England, Panama and Tunisia. Belgium won all their group matches and advanced to the elimination round. In the round of 16, they faced Japan. Japan surprised Belgium after scoring two goals at the start of the second half. Belgium retaliated by scoring two goals after the hour mark, and then right before the match ended they scored a third, to win the round. In the quarterfinals, they faced Brazil, whom they beat 2-1 after scoring 2 early goals. Entering the semi-finals, Belgium hoped to improve their World Cup record and reach a final. This was not to be as France scored the only goal of the game in the 51st minute. 4 days later, Belgium entered the third place playoff, for the second time in the country’s history, and here they faced England, who they beat earlier in the group stage. Belgium beat England once again in the playoffs to finish in third place.
Belgium’s Qualification Route to the World Cup
Belgium was drawn into a group with Belarus, Czech Republic, Estonia and Wales in their UEFA World Cup qualifiers. Needing to finish first in the group to secure a place in the World Cup, Belgium did not struggle with their group matches. Belgium won 6 out of their 8 matches, drawing twice. They scored 25 goals and only conceded 6, putting them at the top of the table and securing a berth to the World Cup.
Belgium’s Ranking – Europe’s Leading Nation
As mentioned before, Belgium were sitting in the top place in the World Rankings after 2015. They held the top position in 2020, but after failing to reach any further than the quarterfinals in the 2020 European Championship, they dropped in the World Rankings to second place. Brazil took the top spot in their place, but Belgium remained the top European nation in the World Rankings.
Which Players Are Available to Belgium at the World Cup?
Belgium had one of the most highly rated youthful squads in the 2018 World Cup. The team had built up over the years, with more talents joining the squad each year. 4 years later, some of these talents have hung up their boots, but the core players who were key to the nation’s success still play at the top level, in some of the biggest clubs in the world.
In goal, the first choice Belgian goalkeeper is Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois. At the age of 30, he is in his prime and still has many years left ahead to improve. Next to Courtois, there are some other choices for keeper such as Simon Mignolet, Koen Casteels and Matz Sels.
The Belgian defence may have aged, but there are also plenty of young talents who have joined the side in recent years. Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are 33 and 35 years old, but they still play in the Belgian league at the top level. Next to them, there are some great options such as Timothy Castagne, Thomas Foket, Jason Denayer, Thomas Neunier and Dedryck Boyata.
The Belgian midfield has experienced players who will definitely give their opponents plenty to worry about. The key players are captain Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Thorgan Hazard, Alex Witsel, and Yannick Carrasco. There are also some younger midfielders who can threaten, such as Youri Tielemans, Leandro Trossard, Adnan Januzaj, Leander Dendoncker, and Amadou Onana.
Romelu Lukaku will lead the Belgian attack, and next to him, there is a lot of talent that the manager, Roberto Martinez, can field. Michy Batshuayi, Christian Benteke, Divock Origi, and the 35-year-old Dries Mertens can all be played alongside Lukaku at the front.
How to Bet on Belgium at the World Cup
When looking for bets to place on Belgium, you will find no shortage of options here at mr.play. We have a large collection of bets that are available for both Belgium as a team and also for individual players. For example, you can bet on which player in the tournament will win the golden boot, golden glove, or golden ball.
Golden Boot Bet
You can place a bet on which of the Belgium players will win the golden boot. This is an award that is given to the player who scores the most goals in the World Cup. Romelu Lukaku is Belgium’s leading goalscorer, and he netted 5 goals in the 8 qualifier matches. He will definitely be on most punters’ radars, as the Inter Milan striker will lead the Belgian attack.
Golden Glove Bet
3 time La Liga winner and 1 time Champions League winner, Thibaut Courtois, is amongst the keepers in the World Cup who can win the golden glove. The award is given to the most influential goalkeeper in the World Cup.
Golden Ball Bet
The golden ball is an award that is given to the player who has the best overall performance in the World Cup. In 2018, Eden Hazard was given the “Silver Ball”, which is the runners up medal for the most influential player in the competition. He remains the captain of the Belgian team, but another convincing choice for the golden ball is Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne. The player is at the peak of his powers and is a staple in the Belgian team, regularly either supplying assists or scoring goals himself.
You can take your betting even further by checking out what markets we offer for each match in the competition. There are plenty of pregame player bets and game props, in addition to the more standard bets such as match bets, Asian handicaps, total goals, and so on. You can also explore our equally large collection of live bets that will be made available during matches.