lundi 4 juillet 2016

Diables Rouges XI (1972-2016)

Les XI de l'equipe Nationale de Belgique de football (Diables Rouges) qui se sont signalés lors des différents championnats d'Europe et Coupes du Monde, des années septante (et les débuts du professionalisme en Belgique) à aujourd'hui.

Belgium National Team XI (Diables Rouges/ Red Devils), from the seventies (and the beginnings of professionalism in Belgium football) until today.

Belgium XI at Euro 1972 : semi-finalist and 3rd.

Winner of the Group 5 in the qualifiers before Portugal Scotland and Denmark; winner of Italy in the quarter-finals (in two legs); qualified for a final tournament held at home; eliminated in the semi-finals by the eventual champion West Germany; ranked third by beating Hungary (which had been eliminated in the semis by Soviet Union).

The XI :

Belgium 1972

Belgium XI at Euro 1980, Runner-up.

Winner of the Group 2 in the qualifying stage (before Austria, Portugal, Scotland and Norway); qualified for the first Euro with 8 teams (2 groups) held in Italy; winner of the group B in the first round of the finals before Italy, England and Spain with a draw game with England then a win over Spain and finally a 0-0 with Italy; finalist as one of the two winners of group; beaten in the Final by West Germany (2-1).

The XI :

Belgique 1980

The veteran van Moer was back in the team and particularly interesting into that "more physical than technical" tournament. What doesn't mean he could not play the ball. But... well.

Belgium XI at the World Cup 1982 : Second Round (= last 12)

Winner of the Group  in the European qualifiers (neighboroughsFrance second and qualified as well, Ireland, neighboroughs Holland and Cyprus eliminated).
Winner in Spain of the opening game of the finals against the Champion Argentina (1-0, Vandenbergh) and winner of the group 3 in the first round before the same Argentina, Hungary (1-1) and El Salvador (1-0 win in the second match). 
Qualfied for the Second Round which consistd in 4 groups with 3 teams. Defeated twice at this stage : first by Poland (0-3) and by Soviet Union (0-1); Poland progressed to the semi-finals.

The XI (it's complicated but the explanations follows the draw) :

Belgium 1982
- Pfaff played all the three matches in the first round. In the second round Custers played against Poland then it is Munaron who played against Soviet Union. It is that Pfaff got injured in the game against Hungary but he had finished the game suffering in silence. A shoulder injury that he had in January was waking up.

- like Pfaff, Gerets did not play in the second round due to injury : indeed the two players telescoped each other against Hungary. Gerets was directly replaced by Plessers in this match after the accident. Then he was replaced by a young Renquin for the second round matches.

- still in defense, Baecke started alongside the "libero" Millecamps (Luc) in the three matches of the first round before that Meeuws replaced him in this position for the two second round matches. De Schrijver was the left back in the first match against Argentina, was numerically replaced in the second match agaisnt El Salvador by Meeuws (who did not play against Argentina) in quite a different system with Gerets and Vercauteren on the sides but still on the left hand of the defense. Meeuws was the left back in the last match of the first round against Hungary. Then, as Meeuws was associated with L. Millecamps in central defense against in the second round, Plessers became the left back of the team against Poland. After this match, De Schrijver found again his spot of left back for the decisive match with the USSR team but was replaced a bit after the hour of play of this match by Marc Millecamps (31-32 years old). In brief, if de Schrijver was sensed to be the solution to fill the left back role, there has always been a problem at this position.

- whatever what was the general organisation of the team, Coeck and Vercauteren were the irremovable ones of the Belgian midfield. Vercauteren had just a less usual role for him in one occasion, against El Salvador with more defensive duties, otherwise he was the (offensive) left midfielder.

- Vandersmissen was another who started in almost all the games but he has been replaced at half-time against El Salvador by van der Elst and against Hungary, at half-time again, by van Moer. He lost his spot against Poland, a match where van Moer and van der Elst played one half each, in the same order as they are cited. Then Vandersmissen re-found his place at midfield for the last match against Soviet Union but this time in quite a different organisation or more exactly a different interaction between the players given that Ceulemans was for this match now a striker (instead of Czernyatinski) and that the player who numerically replaced him at midfield, Verheyen, was clearly employed in a more defensive role than him : the duo Vandersmissen-Verheyen works like the duo Semmeling-Dockx of 1972 at the difference that Semmeling was more of a "winger" and that Vandersmissen was more of a "playmaker". Still using the comparision with the 1972 team, the duo Coeck-Vercauteren of '82 did not work exactly the same way that the duo Mertens-Verheyen just like the duo Mertens-Verheyen did not work exactly the same way that the duo Polleunis-Verheyen (of the 3rd place match, still in '72). In all those cases it is the same formation, basically a (flat) 4-4-2, but it is not the same players.

- Ceulemans played as a clear forward, during the full-time, against Soviet Union in the last game. Even if he could drop back a bit. The rest of the time it was otherwise he was at midfield from where he joined the attack, ponctually, or for some periods of time. The duo of strikers consisted during the major part of this competition of the young Vandenbergh and Czerniatynski. Vandenbergh was a quite complete striker, a centre-forward who could go wide to make some room to the rushes of Ceulemans. Czerniatynski was a striker more with the qualities of a winger in the sense that he had the dribble and the speed. But rightly so, his speed could be usefull in order to find him in the depth.

- a last point : Pfaff declared that without the injuries of himself and Gerets, Belgium would have won the Word Cup.

Belgium XI at the 1986 World Cup : Semi-finalist and 4th.

As one of the best seconds of the qualifers (second in the group 1 behind Poland, and ranking before Albania and Greece) Belgium was allowed to play in the barrages with two tickets to the World Cup finals remaining. One of those two barrages matches was a Scotland vs Australia (Scotland qualified) and the other one a Belgium vs Holland. Holland and his new star Gullit had certainly here a chance to come back on the international stage (left in 1980, after a poor Euro) but it is well Belgium of the old Ceulemans, Gerets...that qualified (1-0, 1-2) on a knife edge.
Propulsed to Mexico by a header by Grün on a cross by Gerets for the 1-2 in Holland, Belgium participates in its fourth major tournament in a row in this year '86. 
A year that will remain in the history books in Belgium even though there was a long way to go.

Indeed, after a loss against hosting team Mexico (1-2), a win over valiant Iraqi (2-1) and a 2-2 with Paraguay, it is only as one of the best third that Belgium miraculously qualifies (once again, after those qualifiers we talked about) for the round of 16 of the finals.
The miracle continues with a 4-3 win over the Soviet Union in a polemical match. in the quarter-finals, "Les Diables Rouges" overcome "La Furia Roja", considered as the favorite in a penalty shoot-out (1-1, 5-4). But all this chance stops in the semi-finals when Belgium has to Face the Argentina of Maradona who eliminates Pfaff, Gerets and company by scoring two goals in this match. The "Lion of Rekeem Gerets" faced here his toughest adversary in career as he always says and this time, the posts did not save a very lucky Pfaff until then.

In the 3rd place game, France, beaten by Poland by 3 goals to 2 four years earlier, wins this time by 4 goals to 2.

The XI :

Belgique 1986

Gerets and Vervoort could make it a 5-3-2 as well (with Demol as centre-half). Those two versions of the team , a 4-4-2 as presented (because it is the base) or a 5-3-2... both are right.

In spite of a difficult cohabitation between the old warrior and captain of the team Ceulemans and the young talented Scifo (elected best young player of the tournament and who confirmed the exceptional qualities that he gave a glimpse two years earlier at the Euro), the Belgian XI had here his more glorious campaign in his history.
What's the reason for that?

Belgium at the 1990 World Cup : round of 16.

Present in all the competions during the 80s, Belgium is still here for the Italian World Cup in 1990. It is this time a round of 16, lost to England (0-1 a.e.t). After they had won against South Korea and Uruguay, "Les Diables Rouges" had lost to Spain in the group stage and ranked second.
A transitional team with still still Gerets and Ceulemans in it but not Pfaff anymore, replaced by Preud'homme who was in his shadow since years, and putted aside of the National Team since his injury just before the World Cup 1982 finals.

The XI proposed to England :

Belgium 1990

If he (Preud'homme) has not really shone in this 1990 World Cup, Preud'homme will show all his talent four years later within maybe a more interesting XI, now unballasted of its "old glories".

Belgium XI at the 1994 World Cup : round of 16.

Qualified from the group 4 with Romania (1st of the group at thegoal difference) in the premiminary round, eliminating the Czech Republic, Wales, Cyprus and the Faroe Islands.

In the United States, Belgium qualified from the group stage as one of the best 3rd, thanks to a victory over the rival Holland and over Morocco in the first match. In the last match, Saudi Arabia beat Belgium 1-0 thanks to an incredible solo goal of Owairan that placed his team second behind Holland. Holland, Saudi Arabia and Belgium all had the same amount of points and the same goal difference but Belgium only scored two goals so their ranking. Belgium also condeded only one goal.

It is another time the round of 16 for Belgium. This time against an ageing Germany. Germany that qualifies greatly thanks to his veteran striker Völler and his usal partner Klinsmann. Preud'homme, excellent in the first round, despite his efforts, could not do anything here. Final score 2-3 (Albert reduced the score at the 90th minute only).

The typical or synthesis-XI :

Belgium 1994
Emmers and Nilis started against Germany. Degryse did not play. Boffin came into play. Like Czerniatynski for his lone appearance into this competition.

Belgium at the Asian World Cup in 2002, in Japan and in South Korea (played all its games in Japan) : round of 16.

Second of the Group 6 in the qualifiers behind Croatia and before Scotland, Latvia, San Marino, Belgium came out winner of a barrage game with the Czech Republic (with two 1-0 wins) to eventually qualify to the finals.

Les Diables Rouges here qualified from the Group H after a 2-2 draw-game with the hosting nation Japan, a 1-1 draw gme with Tunisia and finally a victory over Russia (3-2).

Once again, Belgium could not go through the round of 16 stage despite some real arguments and a good prestation here, against the eventual champion Brazil which won this match by 2-0 - not without having been a bit worried by the Belgians, less by the referee.

The XI :

Belgium 2002
De Boeck played alongside Buyten in cental defense in the first round (against Tunisia and Russia) before that Simons was dropped back from midfield for the match against Brazil.

Belgium at the 2014 World Cup : quarter-finalist.

A new generation of players full of promises qualifies for the World Cup again after twelve years of absence in the World tournament (and 14 years of absence at the Euro, Belgium could not qualify in 2012 again).

UEFA Group A winners before Croatia, Serbia, Scotland, Wales and Macedonia at the qualifying stage; winner of the group H in the 1st round of the finals in Brazil (2-1 agaisnt Algeria, 1-0 against Russia and agaisnt South Korea); winner of the United States in the round of 16 by 2-1 a.e.t; eliminated by Argentina in the quarter-finals by 1-0.

The XI :

Belgium 2014

Already seen as more than an outsider in 2014, Belgium featured amongst the "clear favorites" for manys at the Euro 2016.

But "bis repetita".

Belgium at the Euro 2016 in France : quarter-finalist.

16 years after their last participation in an Euro (and 32 years after the period 72-84 with nothing in between this period and the Euro 2000, at the European level) the Belgian team and all his talents with now 2 years of experience more arrives in France with the image of a favorite.

Back to the reality in the very first game of the finals with a defeat given by the always realistic Italian team (0-2). All ends finally well in this group E with a 3-0 win over Ireland and a 1-0 win against Sweden.
It is now the round of 16 of this first Euro with 24 teams and Belgium sweeps off a sympathetic Hungarian team, very ambitious in its game (4-0 for Belgium). Then arrives the test of the quarter-finals against one of the two surprise guests (with Iceland) Wales. Everybody knows the recent history, Wales won by 3 to 1. Wales had already beat Belgium in the qualifiers in 2015 in Cardiff and had not lost in Brussels one year before already.

The XI :
Belgium 2016
In spite of wearing the shirt of Eddy Merckx, this Belgium could not reach the last 4 even less the Final, not talking of winning the trophy.

True that Vermaelen was missing for this quarter-final, replaced by Denayer. Same with Vertonghen, already not a "real left back" but a centre back used there, replaced by the young Lukaku.

The inscription Carrasco (Mertens) :  means that Mertens usually entered for Carrasco (in the same role). It was the case in almost all the matches, it was the case in the quarter-finals where by the way Fellaini entered at half-time and Batshuayi (striker) did the same but at the very end of the match.

Belgium at the World Cup 2018, in Russia : semi-finalist and 3rd (Belgium best result ever).

Belgium 2018
Winner of Brazil in the quarter-finals then eliminated by France in the semi-finals (without Meunier, suspended). Fellaini was not a starter in the beginning of the competition and did not participated in the 3rd place match won against England.

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