Written by BelgianSpur
A few days ago, I had the privilege to attend a World Cup game in Russia. I won’t go into too much detail about how welcoming and peaceful the Russians were (despite all that has been written in the media), but it was truly a wonderful experience. And this is coming from someone who attended multiple Euro 2016 games including the famed England-Russia game in Marseille. Having seen first hand how bad it could have been, the trip was nothing but great.
The match I chose to attend was Belgium-England, in Kaliningrad. Not only was it the only group game really worth going to, it was also the closest to Belgium and it was also going to feature several current or ex-Spurs players.
As we got closer to the date, it became clear that this game was probably not going to be a classic. Unfortunately, not only was there no real reason to push for a win, there was actually quite an advantage to losing the game (which was only further confirmed later, when Russia surprisingly knocked Spain out). Nevertheless, we tried to make the most out of it. What the game lacked in sporting interest, it made up in atmosphere. In the end, both teams (and sets of fans) seemed happy with the outcome.
The general consensus in Belgium is that 2018 is really “now or never” for our so-called “golden generation”. The last 4 years have been building up to this and it’s time to deliver. While some fans would have preferred the easiest path to the final (currently being followed by England), most supporters think that if Belgium win it, it will have been a memorable win, having beaten the very best teams en route to glory. The next 48 hours will begin to tell us whether that view was a naive one, or whether Belgium can actually do it.
Our round of 16 game against Japan can be viewed as a positive or a negative. Some will rue the fact that we conceded 2 goals to a vastly inferior team, while others will point to the character shown by the team to respond by scoring 3 goals in 20 minutes. At the very least, it is yet a confirmation of what many people already knew: when Belgium are firing on all cylinders, like they were in the last 20 minutes against Japan, they’re hard to stop.
Next up is Brazil, which offers both fear and hope. It’s a hugely talented team, but not without flaws. I truly believe that if Belgium can defend to the best of their ability and limit Brazil’s chances, they’ve got a good chance. Belgium will create chances and score against anyone.
While nobody is confident, there’s a quiet optimism that we can finally show the world how good this generation is. COME ON BELGIUM!