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EURO 2020 inside track: Belgium

UEFA.com's Belgium reporter Alyssa Saliou gives the Red Devils a thorough once-over.

Meet the teams: Belgium
Meet the teams: Belgium

Group B fixtures

12/06: Belgium vs Russia
17/06: Denmark vs Belgium
21/06: Finland vs Belgium

Team profile

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

Coach: Roberto Martínez
Captain: Eden Hazard
Nickname: Red Devils
How they qualified: Group I winners (W10 D0 L0 F40 A3)
EURO best: Runners up (1980)

Where they could play their knockout games

Round of 16: Amsterdam, Bucharest, Seville or Glasgow
Quarter-final: Saint Petersburg, Munich, Rome or Baku
Semi-final: London
Final: London

Final 26-man squad

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Matz Sels (Strasbourg)

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Timothy Castagne (Leicester), Jason Denayer (Lyon), Thomas Meunier (Dortmund), Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica)

Midfielders: Nacer Chadli (İstanbul Başakşehir), Yannick Carrasco (Atlético de Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Leander Dendoncker (Wolves), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Thorgan Hazard (Dortmund), Dennis Praet (Leicester), Youri Tielemans (Leicester), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Axel Witsel (Dortmund)

Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Jeremy Doku (Rennes), Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Leandro Trossard (Brighton)

Classic Belgium EURO goals
Classic Belgium EURO goals

UEFA.com Belgium team reporter: Alyssa Saliou

This is my first EURO with UEFA.com, but I have worked closely with the squad before, starting out at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, where the foundations were laid for the current 'Golden Generation'. For some years, Belgium have had a team capable of competing for trophies. They have been top of the FIFA rankings for a while: will they finally confirm their No1 status at this EURO?

How they play

Roberto Martínez can be unpredictable, but his 3-4-2-1 formation has been pretty standard in the last five years. In front of that three-man defence, he has two solid midfielders – so there are always five men behind the ball if Belgium are under pressure – while two midfielders on the flanks support three forwards, all playing in a relatively confined space up front. Plenty of skilful little players, plus some tireless, athletic ones: a potent combination.

Key Player: Kevin De Bruyne

The Manchester City man leaves his mark on every game he plays in. If De Bruyne is absent or off form, Belgium feel like a completely different team. No team at this level are totally dependent on one player, of course, but it is hard to underestimate the importance of De Bruyne's ability to read the game and his incisive, striker-friendly passing. With the ball, and even without it, he is a phenomenal player.

See Belgium sing the national anthem at their home EURO in 2000
See Belgium sing the national anthem at their home EURO in 2000

Coach: Roberto Martínez

A Spanish defensive midfielder who spent most of his playing career in the English leagues, Martínez managed Swansea, Wigan and Everton before taking the Belgium job in the wake of the Red Devils' EURO 2016 quarter-final loss to Wales. He inherited an extremely talented squad, but the 47-year-old's hands-on approach and tactical insight has taken this side to another level.

One to watch: Jeremy Doku

With Michy Batshuayi, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens, Belgium are not short of goalscorers, so the fact that the 19-year-old Doku has forced his way into the reckoning is quite an achievement. The Rennes forward can be thrilling to watch: see how his first touch propels him forward, and how he accelerates past opponents. Considering his age and talent, expect him to be a big name for a long while to come.

Can they win it?

On the basis of talent, absolutely. However, it's a tough competition and some key players are carrying knocks. Will Axel Witsel be able to take his spot in midfield? Will De Bruyne be at his best after minor surgery for a facial injury? Will Eden Hazard be fit to play full, 90-minute games? On the positive side, Yannick Carrasco is sizzling form after winning the Spanish league with Atlético, while Lukaku's Serie A success at Inter has left him hungry for more. If all goes well, there may be no stopping Belgium.

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