Boasting world-class players like Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, it isn’t hard to see why oddsmakers and pundits alike are projecting a deep World Cup run for a Belgian outfit that’s third in FIFA’s coefficient rankings behind only Brazil and Germany.
Many have hailed this as “The Golden Generation of Belgium Football” but with no real hardware to showcase, this current crop of Red Devils is a ways off proving that gilded epithet. As their 2018 World Cup betting odds imply, though, an absurdly talented and well-rounded Belgian side has an excellent chance of adding to that fairly barren trophy case in Russia this summer.
Their leader, Roberto Martinez, landed the gig as manager when former Belgium boss Marc Wilmots was sacked following a disappointing 3-1 quarterfinal loss to Wales at the 2016 European Championship in France, a tournament the Belgians entered ranked first in the world. The 44-year-old Spaniard led his squad to an easy World Cup qualification but after some poor results in friendlies and a shocking cut of Radja Nainggolan, Martinez’ tactics and decision-making have come into question at the worst possible time.
The pressure is high for the Belgians in 2018 with the clock ticking on some of their best players’ primes and if Martinez doesn’t get his boys marching to the beat of the same drum, it could be more disappointment for a nation that’s never finished higher than fourth at the World Cup.
Belgium’s Odds to Win the World Cup: +1000
Given a +1100 line to win the World Cup following the group draw, Belgium’s odds have actually improved since November. That’s a bit strange given some recent results but at 10/1, The Red Devils are still well worth a bet and in my opinion, they’re the best team after Germany, Brazil and Spain.
While Kevin De Bruyne’s comments regarding the lack of a cohesive defensive strategy are concerning, Belgium has the kind of overwhelming talent that can overcome poor tactics on any given day and at this point, I’d consider the Belgians a bargain in futures markets.
Belgium’s Odds to Win Group G: -140
The unquestioned standouts of Group G, Belgium should have no issues wading by such minnows as Panama and Tunisia. To win the group, though, they’ll likely have to beat England on the third and final matchday and with just one win in their last 11 matches against the English (since 1947), that will be no easy feat.
Taking nine points from the group stage in Brazil, the Belgians were one of the best sides in the preliminary round at the last World Cup, allowing just one goal en route to an easy first-place finish. If you’re confident in Belgium, -140 is a great price.
Belgium’s Best World Cup Bets:
As I mentioned earlier, a group win will most likely have to come through The Three Lions and when you stack up the two sides, the argyle-clad Belgians have an enormous advantage in terms of straight-up talent.
Because of this, I like Belgium’s +140 moneyline odds for their fixture with England on June 28.
It’s possible that no two teams are more familiar with each other heading into the World Cup, with many of the Belgian and English players sharing the same EPL clubs, and their match on the final day of group play could be one of the most compelling fixtures of the entire tournament.
Belgium’s Player to Watch: Kevin de Bruyne
Establishing himself as one of the best players in the world since his move to Manchester City, Kevin De Bruyne could hold the key to Belgium’s 2018 World Cup success.
Collecting eight goals and 16 assists in 36 appearances during City’s record-breaking Premier League season, KDB most certainly would have won PFA player of the year in any universe where Mohamed Salah and Jurgen Klopp never met.
While he doesn’t always show up on the scoresheet, De Bruyne’s impact is undeniable. He weights a pass like no other midfielder in the world and his ungodly mix of vision and creativity is second to none.
Surrounded by gifted scorers like Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard, Kevin is set up to do special things in Russia and his +1600 odds to win the Golden Ball as the tournament’s MVP are not only justified – they’re very tempting.
Belgium’s Road to Russia:
Entering the tournament third in FIFA’s rankings, Belgium set Europe on fire during qualification, rewriting the nation’s record books with 28 points and 43 goals in 10 fixtures.
That doesn’t mean much for Russia 2018, however, as we’ve grown accustomed to the Belgian hype train falling off the rails suddenly and without warning at the world’s biggest competitions.
Excuse the hyperbole but with the stars aligned, it may be now or never for The Red Devils. Belgium is a relatively small country with a population of just over 11 million – it could be decades before they see another collection of footballers this primed for glory.
|4||Vincent Kompany||DEF||Manchester City||73|
|7||Kevin De Bruyne||MID||Manchester City||59|
|11||Yannick Carrasco||MID||Dalian Yifang||22|
|22||Nacer Chadli||MID||West Brom||35|
|8||Marouane Fellaini||MID||Manchester United||80|
|18||Adnan Januzaj||MID||Real Sociedad||6|
|6||Axel Witsel||MID||Tianjin Quanjian||88|
|9||Romelu Lukaku||FOR||Manchester United||66|