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Belgium’s World Cup History Marked by Momentum Cresting Toward 2018


A brief overview of the highs and lows for the Belgian national soccer team.

From left, Belgium’s Nacer Chadli, Vincent Kompany and Eden Hazard after their opening goal in a win over Brazil on Friday.CreditManan Vatsyayana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Belgium’s national soccer team was one of 13 teams to play in the inaugural World Cup in 1930, but the country didn’t achieve its first World Cup match win until 1970. Belgium has also claimed several surprising victories against reigning World Cup champions, including France in 2002.

Some other stats:

First appearance: 1930

Total appearances: 13 out of 20 World Cup tournaments

Title wins: 0

What’s the History

The First Taste of Success

In 1930, Belgium participated in the first World Cup, but the team only made it to the knockout stages in 1986 when they went all the way to the semifinals.

That performance was part of a sustained era of success. Belgium appeared in six consecutive World Cups from 1982 to 2002, making it to the knockout stage for five of those tournaments.

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A Golden Generation Emerges

A new crop of young, talented players powered Belgium to a win over Russia to capture their group in 2014. The team went on to beat the United States in the round of 16 before falling to Argentina, 1-0, in the quarterfinals.

That team included young players who had started to distinguish themselves in the Premier League like goalie Thibaut Courtois, midfielder Mousa Dembele and defender Vincent Kompany — a group of rising stars that are playing key roles again in 2018.

The squad began the knockout stages with a stirring come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Japan and then shocked Brazil in the quarterfinals, 2-1, to vault into the semifinals.

What’s at Stake

Belgium’s coach, Roberto Martinez, overseeing a once-in-a-lifetime stable of talent, will be looking to demonstrate that he has the managerial talent to match the players on the pitch.

Martinez has leaned on some of the younger members of the team, like Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, in hopes that young legs can propel the Belgian team farther than its 2014 iteration, which ran out of steam. If so, the players may fulfill the promise of a new golden generation.



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