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Hands Up For Your Colours

Started on 1 June 2018 by InvertedWingbacks
Latest Reply on 6 June 2018 by InvertedWingbacks

The World Cup is just around the corner, and with the pressure and anticipation rising, I'd like to introduce 'Hands Up For Your Colours' - A World Cup series, in which I take charge of one of the most underachieving teams of recent years on the international stage.

Despite being almost spoilt with talent and a recent stream of supremely talented players, Belgium just haven't made it happen on the biggest stage in World football. The Number 1 team in the world rankings in 2015, the Red Devils crashed out in the Quarter Finals following a 3-1 defeat to Wales. They met a similar fate in the 2014 World Cup, crashing out against Argentina in the Quarter Finals despite being ranked 3rd in the world.

Belgium again come into this World Cup ranked 3rd in the world, behind Germany and Brazil. Despite Radja Nainggolan's exclusion from the provisional squad, Belgium have named a strong squad for the tournament, and in a bid for realism, this is the squad which I will head into the summer with!

We are set to play two warm-up matches - against Scotland on June 6th, followed by Egypt on June 11th, before tackling our World Cup group of Panama, Tunisia and England. My intention is to play and post these games in real-time as far as possible, with updates in the form of match reports and news updates when something newsworthy happens.

This project will run for as long as I can keep Belgium in the competition (which is hopefully until the final, but let's not presume anything.) Without further ado, allow me to present Belgium's provisional World Cup squad.

Provisional 28-Man Squad

Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Matz Sels (Newcastle*), Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg)

Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Laurent Ciman (LAFC), Christian Kabasele (Watford), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Jordan Lukaku (Lazio), Thomas Meunier (PSG), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)

Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Nacer Chadli (West Brom), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Youri Tielemans (AS Monaco), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian)

Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea**), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Dries Mertens (Napoli)

*Loaned to Anderlecht
** Loaned to Borussia Dortmund

There we have it, the provisional Belgian squad for the 2018 World Cup! I have maintained it as close to the real life squad as possible, so I'm missing a few surprising names, however hopefully our preparation goes well, and we can finally make an impact on the international stage!

See more of my writing on my blog: where I'm currently playing with Liverpool
Welcome back to writing ;) Looking forward to this - Belgium are real dark horses to lift the World Cup so hopefully you can lead them to it. Good luck, although I doubt you need it!
Good luck!
Belgium Finalise World Cup Squad

Squad Updates
No team's path to the World Cup is ever plain sailing, and we've had our fair share of injuries in the run up to our warm up matches. However, despite what initially looked like an injury crisis, only Dries Mertens and Yannick Carrasco gave me real cause for concern in the build up to the tournament.

As we barrelled on towards our first warm-up game, I had to assess who from my initial squad would make the cut for the World Cup, and what adjustments (if any) were necessary for the tournament.

Injuries to several key players have seen Radja Nainggolan recalled after originally being missed out of the world cup squad, while I've had to put together a bit of a make-shift backline, praying that Jordan Lukaku - who travels as our only left back - goes unscathed.

Another big talking point is the inclusion of Leon Bailey, who has made the decision to represent Belgium in this save (unsure of his position in real life) and travels as the 23rd squad member, ready to fill in if required.

Provisional 23-Man Squad

Thiabaut Courtois, Matz Sels, Simon Mingolet

Toby Alderweireld, Laurent Ciman, Christian Kabasele, Vincent Kompany, Jordan Lukaku, Thomas Meunier, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen

Leander Deondoncker, Kevin De Bruyne (Captain), Mousa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Thorgan Hazard, Youri Tielemans, Leon Bailey, Radja Nainggolan (Vice-Captain)

Dries Mertens, Michy Batshuayi, Romelu Lukaku, Divock Origi

See more of my writing on my blog: where I'm currently playing with Liverpool
Match Report: Scotland v Belgium

On a day where Jan Vertonghen became Belgium's most capped player, The Red Devils lined up with a slightly adjusted and unexpected formation, running a 5-2-1-2 with Wing Backs, as opposed to the 4-2-3-1 which many were expecting. However, despite initial resistance from the Belgian fans about the new system, they watched their team run out comprehensive winners against a Scotland side who looked lifeless and uninspired.

An encouraging start to World Cup preparations, Belgium can take heart from this performance ahead of their final warm-up game against Egypt on June 11th.

Starting Lineups

Belgium (5-2-1-2): Courtois, Kompany, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Meunier, Lukaku, De Bruyne (c), Nainggolan, T. Hazard, Batshuayi, Origi

Scotland (4-1-4-1): Gordon, Ralston, Hendry, J. Souttar, Tierney (c), McGinn, Forrest, Docherty, McGregor, Murphy, Griffiths

Match Report
1': Scotland Kick us off, and my debut match as Belgium manager is underway. (0-0)

3': Thorgan Hazard fires wide with our first opportunity, following a well-worked corner routine which found him on the edge of the box unmarked. (0-0)

6': GOAL. A brilliant ball from deep by Kevin De Bryune finds Divock Origi deep in the Scotland half, and he squares it for an onrushing Michy Batshuayi. The Chelsea striker made no mistake, curling the ball into the far corner past an outstretched Craig Gordon. (1-0 Belgium)

25': GOAL. Radja Nainggolan sets Michy Batshuayi free down the left flank, and as the Scotland defense shifts over to meet him, Divock Origi is left free in the middle of the box. Batshuayi lofts a ball in, and the Liverpool defender meets it with his head and steers it into the net. (2-0 Belgium)

Half-Time: Belgium 2-0 Scotland: So far, we have been by far the better team, and i've been really impressed by the link up between Origi and Batshuayi up front. De Bruyne and Nainggolan have dominated the midfield, and Scotland are so far struggling to cope.

60': SUBS (Belgium). Youri Tielemans, Eden Hazard and Christian Kabasele replace Radja Nainggolan, Thorgan Hazard and Toby Alderweireld. (2-0 Belgium)

65': SUBS (Scotland). Cammy Kerr and Ryan Jack replace Anthony Ralston and John McGinn. (2-0 Belgium)

75': SUB (Scotland). Scott McKenna replaces John Souttar. (2-0 Belgium)

79': SUBS (Scotland). Chris Cadden, Ali Crawford and Lewis Morgan replace James Forrest, Jamie Murphy and Greg Docherty.

80': GOAL. Following a throw-in, Divock Origi cuts the ball back to the edge of the box, where Jordan Lukaku is lurking, and the Wing-back rifles home for his first international goal. (3-0 Belgium)

Full Time: Belgium 3-0 Scotland: An encouraging and dominant display sees us run out 3-0 winners, with both Michy Batshuayi and Divock Origi impressing, however it is Batshuayi who picks up the Man of the Match award, as his movement in attack caused Scotland real problems, and created space for his team-mates.

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