There are too many question marks around the Red Devils to declare them favorites for the European Championship, but that might be a help. It is the opinion of former record international Jan Ceulemans. “Hazard and Witsel are not water challengers, are they.”
“Maybe it’s good that there are question marks”
With 96 caps, Jan Ceulemans was a record international for many years. Meanwhile, Vertonghen (126), Witsel (110), Alderweireld (108), Eden Hazard (106) and Mertens (97) are past him. Lukaku (92) will be next.
If Lukaku wants to do that, Belgium must at least reach the quarter-finals (and Lukaku play all matches). The ambitions of the Red Devils and the nation are of course higher. The goal is to win the European Championship. Given the current situation, that will not be easy, according to Jan Ceulemans.
“I don’t think the Red Devils are the big favorite because of all the problems they face. Belgium has two big question marks: Axel Witsel and Eden Hazard. And the defense is also getting older.”
“Because of those question marks, we might be able to start the tournament a little more relaxed and therefore just manage to become European champion,” hopes Ceulemans.
Because of the question marks, we might be able to start the tournament a little more relaxed and we just manage to become European champion.
“I think De Bruyne is getting ready”
“I don’t think there is 1 favourite. Many people will say France. I see Spain, France, Portugal, Germany – you should never write them off – and Belgium.
“Kevin De Bruyne will be fine, I think. He has played his matches this season and can probably train again next week, although without contact. That will be all right.”
“Hazard and Witsel are a problem. They are not water carriers, but important players in the game system. One has to make the difference offensively, the other defensively. It remains to be seen how their situation will evolve.”
Hazard and Witsel are not water carriers, but important players in the game system. One has to make the difference offensively, the other defensively.
For Axel Witsel, match rhythm is the big challenge, for Eden Hazard the mental aspect. “The circumstances have changed compared to my time and nowadays a lot is possible, but on the other hand you have to be realistic,” says Ceulemans.
“If you have not been on the field like Witsel for three or four months and you have not been able to build up the rhythm, the question is whether you can be top at a European Championship and whether you can be every three days. , but it’s a big question mark for me.”
“With Hazard it is more mental. Witsel is in a positive evolution, because he first thought that the European Championship was over and suddenly feels that it might still be possible.”
“Hazard played, but not well. A week later he was injured. That is mentally much harder than what Witsel experiences. Hazard fights against himself. He wonders every morning if he feels pain somewhere. That plays in your head.”
“In principle, Vermaelen is the best defender, but he will not play everything”
The question marks around Hazard and Witsel are currently putting long-standing concerns about the aging defense in the shade. However, that can also play a role in the end result.
“In principle, the defense has a lot of experience. Alderweireld is good to very good,” says Jan Ceulemans. “Vertonghen is waiting a bit more after a difficult year at Benfica. In my opinion, Vermaelen is the best of that generation of defenders, but how much has he played?”
“I don’t think he will play all games at the European Championship, because then there is too much chance that he will get injured again soon and the tournament is over for him.”
“In addition, you no longer play against the smallest countries. Belgium must of course be able to handle Russia or Denmark, but they are countries that can play football. The difference in level is smaller between all countries at the European Championship. Then you need a team that radiates confidence. “
“We would be more favorites if we had home games”
There will be (a limited number of) fans in all European Championship stadiums. National teams that play in their own country therefore have an advantage in any case. “Had the Red Devils been allowed to play in Belgium now and then, we would have been more favorite,” says Jan Ceulemans.
“Being able to play in your own country is always an advantage. Now players have to travel a lot. If you’re in Tubize and you play in Brussels, you can, so to speak, go to Brussels on foot to relax. The players are now a lot ordinary, but it is more interesting that you can prepare and play a tournament in your own country.”
The interview with Ceulemans