Belgium are out after failing to beat Croatia. After just one goal and one win, the Red Devils disappointing campaign ended in a way that it more than likely merited. The inquest into what happen will surely begin instantly, as players and manager will be coming under plenty of scrutiny. Here are just three things we learnt from the draw.
1. Roberto Martinez stuck with what the older generation, and it failed
Many, including those of us here, have been crying out for Martinez to include the youth. Instead, he brought in 35 year-old Dries Mertens into the starting line-up. This decision proved wrong, as Mertens was wasteful on the ball and didn’t return for the second half, being replaced by Romelu Lukaku. The three young center backs that Martinez brought managed 0 minutes between them, with Toby Aldeweireld and Jan Vertonghen playing every minute at the tournament. Axel Witsel struggled all tournament, yet he too was ever present for the Red Devils. In many ways, given it was the last tournament for many of these players, Martinez went for sentimentality over practicality. Ultimately, it is up in the air whether or not this disasterous tournament will cost him his job.
2. Jeremy Doku’s cameo gave a glimpse of what Belgium were missing
Jeremy Doku was given just 19 minutes at the World Cup. While injuries have blighted his season, Martinez was willing to give equally injury rigged players more minutes than the 20 year old who, at the last European Championships, was a breakout player. He lifted the tempo of the side when he came on, being one of the only players willing and able to beat his man and drive into the box. His run was what created a guilt-edged chance for Romelu Lukaku, who failed to convert.
3. A match-fit Romelu Lukaku could have made the difference
Immediately after coming on at half-time, Romelu Lukaku was in the action. He ended up having three glorious chances that, when fully fit, you would expect him to score from. However, that has been the problem the entire tournament for Belgium. Without Lukaku, or a fit Lukaku for that matter, the side have managed to score just one goal. Many Belgian fans will be ruing the fact that he wasn’t fit to feature in every game at this tournament.