First of all, relax — This is part of a four-post series making the case for each of four World Cup semifinalists in their respective bids to win the 2018 edition of the tournament.
That said, let’s talk about why Belgium will be lifting the World Cup trophy on July 15 in Moscow.
[ RECAP: Belgium ousts Brazil ]
Why Belgium will win the tournament: First off, Roberto Martinez’s side can beat you in every way imaginable. Personel and tactically speaking, the Red Devils have options for wide open attacks, stingy bus-parking defenses, and any mix in between.
Assuming a way past France’s frighteningly similar side, Belgium could deploy any number of midfield combinations. Keep in mind that the Red Devils were able to handle Brazil without using Yannick Carrasco or Mousa Dembele.
Outshot 27-9, and that won’t happen often, Belgium managed with opportunistic plays. And if a team wants them to play out of the back, they won’t have any problem with Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, and Toby Alderweireld (though the trio has been far from at its best so far in Russia, that only bolsters the argument that Belgium has gotten this far without the in-form three-some). If they need to lump it up top and count on hold-up play, Romelu Lukaku is among the best at it. Michy Batshuayi isn’t bad at that part of the gig, either.
Belgium beat Brazil without using Carrasco, Dries Mertens, and Batshuayi. Each could be a part of a potent attack if the Red Devils go behind, as we saw against Japan. If the midfield needs to bust heads, there’s Axel Witsel, Marouane Fellaini, and Youri Tielemans. If it’s about possession, Tielemans can help Kevin De Bruyne starve the opposition of its daily recommended amount of ball.
Frankly, Martinez may shut up a whole lot of Merseyside-based critics by the time he’s done in Russia.