Belgium vs Russia: The World No. 1 Team Heavy Burden

Belgium bears a heavy burden when they meet Russia in the Group B match of the Euro 2020 European Cup (Euro 2021), Sunday (13/6).

Belgium comes into Euro 2020 (Euro 2021) with a different status from previous tournaments. De Rode Duivels, who used to be called the dark horse team, has now changed its status to become the favorite team to win.

It can not be separated from the status of the world’s number one team that carried Belgium. Roberto Martinez’s squad is currently at the top of the FIFA rankings, ahead of rival teams at Euro 2020 (Euro 2021).

Belgium is above other elite teams such as France, England, Portugal, Spain and Italy. The top position in the FIFA ranking as of 27 May 2021 also makes Belgium seem obliged to go far in this four-year tournament.

At the 2018 World Cup, Belgium also managed to answer public expectations. Belgium, which at that time was ranked third in FIFA, qualified for the semifinals.

The step of Eden Hazard and his friends towards the final was stopped by France. Les Bleus then emerged as champions after beating Croatia in the top match.

At Euro 2020 (Euro 2021), Belgium clearly qualifies to be called a potential champion team. In addition to the number one position in the FIFA rankings, Belgium came with their golden generation.

Belgium is full of star players who strengthen Europe’s top clubs. Of the 26 players who were called up for Euro 2020 (Euro 2021), a dozen of them led their team to championship titles, both in domestic and European competitions.

The famous names include the Real Madrid duo, namely Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, and Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan).

Belgium’s report card after the 2018 World Cup is also very impressive. Out of 27 matches, only 2 ended in defeat. The two teams that beat Belgium were Switzerland (5-2) and England (2-1).

In qualifying for Euro 2020 (Euro 2021) Belgium was also unstoppable. Belgium swept through 10 games with a win, scoring 40 goals and conceding just three.

So it is natural that many parties favor Belgium to be the best with such a series of brilliant records. However, questions arise about how mentally tough the Belgian players are to hold the status of the favourites.

Individually, Belgium is inhabited by several players who have a winning mentality. De Bruyne has won many titles at Man City, as well as Lukaku who managed to bring Inter to stop Juventus’ dominance in the Italian League.

However, the presence of these players did not necessarily dampen the question of Belgium’s mental readiness to become champions. Moreover, the best achievement of the coach, Roberto Martinez is only limited to winning the FA Cup with Wigan Athletic.

Belgium is also not a team like France, Italy, Portugal, Spain or England. These teams are used to being the favorite team in every tournament.

Whereas Belgium previously was nothing more than a dark horse team in each tournament. Belgium had been runners-up in the European Cup, but that record was carved for a very long time at the 1980 European Cup.

Status as the favorite champion is not impossible to burden the Belgian players. As a result, the players of De Rode Duivels have the potential to not be able to put out their best performance on the field.

If this happens then it is a bad signal for Belgium. Moreover, they have been awaited by Russia in the opening match which took place at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.

Russia is not a team that Belgium can take lightly. When hosting the 2018 World Cup, Russia was able to advance to the quarter-finals before they were stopped by Croatia in extra time.

Russia also has dangerous players such as Aleksandr Golovin, team captain Artem Dzyuba, to experienced players Yuri Zhirkov. The role of these three players will be crucial in their efforts to surprise Belgium in the first match.

If they can get past Russia’s challenge well, Belgium can be calmer against Denmark and Finland. However, if the result against Russia misses expectations, then Belgium’s steps will be even more difficult with the status of the champion team weighing on them.

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