Belgium came within one game of qualifying for the Euro 2012 playoffs, but instead they have had to settle for a friendly match against Romania after failing to do enough to make it.
The Belgians travelled to Germany in October knowing that a win would see them take the playoff spot, but they were comprehensively beaten 3-1 and Turkey took the place at their expense.
The Belgians are brimming with talent but have, for years, been infamously difficult to tame. Former manager Dick Advoccat spoke out about the cliques and in-fighting which is said to plague the Belgian national side and this could be partly to blame for their failure to make the most of the talent at their disposal.
Of the squad named to face the Romanians, Marouane Fellaini, Thomas Vermaelen, Vincent Kompany and Moussa Dembele are well known to Premier League fans, while Daniel van Buyten and Eden Hazard are both household names across Europe. If Belgium are to start realising their potential, however, then they have got to start performing on the park and not just on paper.
One thing that Belgium do have in their team is goals. They found the net 21 times in their ten qualifying matches – an average of more than two goals per game – and they can be backed to score two goals again in this match at odds of 12/5, or 7/4 to score in both halves.
For a country that produced players like Gheorghe Hagi, Adrian Mutu, Christian Chivu and Dan Petrescu, the current Romania squad is distinctly lacking in any genuine top-class stars. Rangers defender Dorin Goian is the only British-based player in a squad that contains 13 players drawn from the Romanian league.
Romania finished a full six points off a playoff spot in their group and scored eight fewer goals in their ten qualifying games than Belgium managed in their campaign. In fact, the midfielders in Belgium’s squad have scored the same amount of goals – 25 – as Romania’s entire squad have managed between them.
With this in mind, Belgium look the most likely to find the net on Friday. They are 67/100 to win the game and 8/5 to win it to nil. Romania are underdogs with bwin at 17/4 to win, while they are 11/10 to draw a blank in front of goal. The draw in this one is 13/5, but the real money lies in the boots of the Belgian strikers.
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