Belgium threatened a major trophy success over the last decade with a ‘golden generation’ of players but proved unable to live up to expectations.

Now the tag is no longer applicable, and the pressure to succeed significantly lightened, this could be the tournament for the team from the lowlands to emerge from the shadows and finally win the European Championship.

The burden of being the top team in the FIFA rankings for some three years sat uncomfortably on the squad and their quarterfinal exit at the last Euros was a huge disappointment.

That was exacerbated by a disastrous World Cup in Qatar two years ago but might prove a blessing in disguise as a fresher side have emerged for the 2024 finals in Germany.


Previous Euro performance: Six participations, best performance runners-up in 1980

Other: World Cup third place in 2018

FIFA ranking: Third

Nickname: Red Devils

Coach: Domenico Tedesco (ITA)

Star players: Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku

Main clubs: Anderlecht, Club Brugge, Standard Liege

How did it qualify: Won Group F ahead of Austria

Pre-Euro friendlies:

Belgium 2 Montenegro 0

Belgium v Luxembourg (June 8)

While Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens and Axel Witsel are among those who have departed the squad, talisman Kevin De Bruyne remains to lead a team of much potential in Group E where they take on Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine.

It opens its campaign in Frankfurt against Slovakia on June 17 and will be expected to advance from the first round without much bother.

Under their Italian-born, German-raised coach Domenico Tedesco, Belgium went unbeaten as it topped its qualifying group with six victories and two draws, finishing a point ahead of fellow qualifier Austria.

“This group loves each other and that makes me feel very good,” the coach said. “Both the young and experienced players are really hungry. That is very important.”

Bust up

Tedesco has already signed a contract extension on the back of the qualifying performances, despite a bust up with Thibaut Courtois that is likely to see the Real Madrid goalkeeper miss out on the tournament.

Courtois walked out on the squad after being overlooked for the captaincy last June, then suffered a knee injury that kept him sidelined for nine months. Although he has returned to action for the Spanish champions, it is unlikely Tedesco will pick him for Germany.

Midfielder De Bruyne will be the on-field leader, along with veteran centre back Jan Vertonghen, still going strong at 37 and with a record 154 caps.

Belgium’s record scorer is Romelu Lukaku, who will lead the attack in Germany. His return of 83 goals in 114 internationals is extraordinary and in contrast to some of his past club form.

“Not only is he very strong mentally but he also ensures the cohesion of the group and ensures that the young players integrate well. Romelu is our glue,” said Tedesco.

The attack will also rely on the dribbling skills of Jeremy Doku while Johan Bakayoko and Lois Openda have shown potential in attack. Midfielders Charles De Ketelaere and Amadou Onana have also freshened up the line-up over the past two years.

Belgium is unbeaten in 12 games since Tedesco replaced Roberto Martinez, its last match being a 2-2 draw at Wembley against England in a friendly international in March.

It has home warm-up matches against Montenegro and neighbours Luxembourg before heading to Germany.

The Belgians were runners-up to West Germany in 1980 in Rome in their best showing at the European Championship. They were quarterfinalists at Euro 2016 and Euro 2020.


Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg/GER), Thomas Kaminski (Luton Town/ENG), Matz Sels (Nottingham Forest/ENG)

Defenders: Timothy Castagne (Fulham/ENG), Maxim De Cuyper (Club Brugge), Zeno Debast (Anderlecht), Wout Faes (Leicester City/ENG), Thomas Meunier (Trabzonspor/TUR), Arthur Theate (Rennes/FRA), Jan Vertonghen (Anderlecht), Axel Witsel (Atletico Madrid/ESP)

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/ENG), Orel Mangala (Lyon/FRA), Amadou Onana (Everton/ENG), Youri Tielemans (Aston Villa/ENG), Arthur Vermeeren (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Aster Vranckx (Wolfsburg/GER)

Forwards: Johan Bakayoko (PSV Eindhoven/NED), Yannick Carrasco (Al Shabab/KSA), Charles De Ketelaere (Atalanta/ITA), Jeremy Doku (Manchester City/ENG), Romelu Lukaku (Roma/ITA), Dodi Lukebakio (Sevilla/ESP), Lois Openda (RB Leipzig/GER), Leandro Trossard (Arsenal/ENG)


Belgium vs Slovakia – June 17, Monday – 9:30 PM

Belgium vs Romania – June 23, Sunday – 12:30 AM

Belgium vs Ukraine – June 26, Wednesday – 9:30 PM


All of Belgium’s matches at Euro 2024 will be telecasted on the Sony Sports Network. The matches will also be live-streamed on the SonyLIV app.

(With inputs from Reuters and AFP)