I’ve been telling any of you who would listen that Belgium’s team in the United States is a better assembly than the one Germany will bring for Sunday’s test in the nation’s capital.
Germany is certainly a brawny group – aren’t we hearing more and more about Die Mannschaft as a solid favorite to be the first European team to win a World Cup in South America? It’s just that so many of their top men aren’t here.
Even without those stars, wearers of the colors of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, German boss Joachim Löw has more than enough talent at his disposal.
And yet, I would still take Belgium’s stacked-and-packed roster over Germany’s slightly depleted version.
But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Sacha Kljestan, who will be starting tonight in Cleveland. Speaking on Soccer Today, he acknowledged that Belgium isn’t the global household name that Germany is, but says tonight’s opponent is the stronger one, considering who Germany has been forced to leave behind. (The Kljestan portion is at the 39 minute mark of the podcast.)
In fairness, Kljestan does play in Belgium, for the Pro League champions Anderlecht. Then again, most of Belgium’s best do not play in the country, so any concerns over bias probably cancel out.
In my opinion, yes … because of the German players who won’t be there. This Belgium team is one of the strongest in the world at the moment. You’ve seen it in the world rankings. They are … 15th now, where they were at 50 or 60 six months ago. They’ve just steadily climbed and they are doing a good job in World Cup qualifying.
“I think the fans are in for a good treat Wednesday, and I hope we can put on a good game as well.”
By the way, in a business where pro athletes are pro athletes – meaning some are good dudes and some, well, not so much – Kljestan is one of the really swell guys. He even adjusted his travel plans over the weekend slightly so he could accommodate the Soccer Today interview. (Disclosure: that’s a show I co-host along with Marc Stein.)