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Second-ranked football side in the world, Belgium, knocked out of World Cup in group stages as the ‘golden generation’ disappoints yet again

Croatia, who finished runners-up in Russia when Belgium finished 3rd, their best finish at a World Cup, knew a draw will be enough to see them through to the knockouts and they got the result they needed.

Belgium ended their disappointing World Cup campaign in 2022 with a 0-0 draw against Croatia, ensuring they get knocked out of the tournament in the group stages itself. This was supposed to be the last big chance for Belgium’s golden generation to make their mark on the world stage, however, it ended in bitter disappointment.

Blessed with some of the best players in the world over the past decade in Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Yannick Carrasco, Meunier, Axel Witsel, and others, Belgium was expected to achieve great things during this time period. However, this golden generation failed to win a single major trophy, and their last big hurrah ended in a whimper as they got knocked out in the first round in Qatar.

Heading into their last group game, Belgium knew that they needed to defeat Croatia to have any chance of progressing to the knockout stage. However, they failed to break down a resolute Croatian side as the game ended in a 0-0 draw. Romelu Lukaku came agonisingly close for the Red Devils twice, but was denied by the frame of the goal once, and lifted the ball just over the goal on the second occasion.

Croatia, who finished runners-up in Russia when Belgium finished 3rd, their best finish at a World Cup, knew a draw will be enough to see them through to the knockouts and they got the result they needed. Surprise package Morocco ended up winning the group as they defeated Canada 2-1, to end up with 7 points, while Croatia finished with 5 and Belgium finished in 3rd place with 4 points.

In fact, Belgium just managed to score one goal in their 3 games at this World Cup, in the win against Canada, where they were actually thoroughly outplayed by minnows Canada. However, Batshuayi’s snap finish saved Belgium’s blushes that day and gave them a 1-0 win. They never scored another goal in the competition though, suffering a shock defeat against Morocco, and a 0-0 draw against Croatia.

The group winners Morocco will now face the runners-up from Group E, featuring Spain, Germany, Japan, and Costa Rica, while Croatia will face the winners of that group.

While Morocco was celebrating one of the greatest days in their football history as they topped a group featuring the 2nd and 3rd placed teams from the last World Cup, Belgium was left ruing the missed chances as their golden generation wasted their last chance to win a trophy.

With most of the players in their 30s, it is highly unlikely that this bunch of Belgian players will ever get a chance to win a trophy together again. The generation that promised so much when it was coming up together at the youth level, will eventually leave with a whimper and a first-round exit from the World Cup. Along with a few players, it is also likely to be the last game in charge for coach Roberto Martinez.

The boss of the Belgian national side since 2016, the best that Martinez could manage was the 3rd place finish in Russia in 2018, which was still considered below-par for the talent that this bunch of Belgian players possesses. Now it seems like that was the best that they will ever achieve in this generation.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
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