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UEFA EURO 2020 contenders in focus: Belgium

Belgium came close to lifting the trophy in 1980, but there is a feeling their time might be now.

Belgium were among the favourites at UEFA EURO 2016
Belgium were among the favourites at UEFA EURO 2016

EURO pedigree

Previous final tournaments: 5
EURO best: final (1980)

Belgium may have featured in only five final tournaments, but they came so close to lifting the trophy in just their second appearance, losing to West Germany in the 1980 final. The Red Devils were tipped among the favourites come 2016, only to suffer a surprise defeat by surprise package Wales in the quarter-finals. Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ are now sure to be among the frontrunners this summer.

Key players

Every goal on Belgium's road to EURO 2020
Every goal on Belgium's road to EURO 2020

Eden Hazard (106 caps, 32 goals)
Belgium’s captain and talisman. His leadership and experience are so important to this team, not to mention his exquisite skills and ability to produce match-winning cameos.

Kevin De Bruyne (78 caps, 20 goals)
Arguably one of the best players on the planet right now. The stats don’t lie, and Belgium have won 57 of the 78 games De Bruyne has figured in. He has assisted 37 goals, in addition to the 20 he has scored himself in that time.

Romelu Lukaku (89 caps, 57 goals)
Belgium’s all-time top scorer – a record that should stand for a generation or more. He has the ability and physical presence to cause problems to any defence, and might just be the man to win Belgium a title.

UEFA.tv team talk: Belgium


Memorable EURO goals

EURO 1980 final highlights: West Germany 2-1 Belgium
EURO 1980 final highlights: West Germany 2-1 Belgium

• René Vandereycken’s penalty against West Germany in the 1980 final ultimately did not suffice, but for a short period at least it allowed Belgians to dream.

• Bart Goor’s opener against Sweden in Brussels at UEFA EURO 2000 will always be fondly remembered. It was the opening goal of a tournament which Belgium were (co-)hosting for the first time.

• Belgium may have gone on to lose 3-1, but Radja Nainggolan’s thunderous early strike against Wales in the 2016 quarter-finals had Marc Wilmots’ men believing.

Memorable moments

• Walking out for the 1980 final remains a historic moment in the history of Belgian football.

• The 4-0 victory over Hungary in the UEFA EURO 2016 round of 16 was Belgium’s biggest ever EURO final tournament win.

• Belgium followed their opening success against Sweden with a 2-0 defeat by Italy in the 2000 group stage, meaning they were in need of victory over Turkey. They lost 2-0, however, with goalkeeper Filip De Wilde’s late dismissal causing defender Eric Deflandre to end up between the posts.

Stats

Watch Mpenza seal 2000 opening night win for Belgium
Watch Mpenza seal 2000 opening night win for Belgium

Most final tournament appearances
7: Jan Ceulemans, Jean-Marie Pfaff, René Vandereycken
6: Erwin Vandenbergh

Most final tournament goals
2: Jan Ceulemans, Romelu Lukaku, Radja Nainggolan

Killer stat: Lukaku is already eighth on the list of all-time leading appearance makers for Belgium; he will be just 28 at the EURO.

Did you know?

• Nine of Belgium’s 22 EURO finals goals have been scored in the closing half-hour of matches; six have come in the last 15 minutes.

• Belgium had never totalled more than four goals at a EURO final tournament before scoring nine in 2016.