On Saturday, The Guardian published an in-depth interview with Belgium and Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne. The interview itself is a standard profile piece about De Bruyne the soccer player and a family man, but he made one admission that is sure to raise eyebrows.
De Bruyne admitted that Belgium is “too old” to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
“Asked if Belgium can win the World Cup, he says, ‘No chance, we’re too old.'”
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people think that Belgium is now too old to win the World Cup, myself included. It’s just very surprising and unexpectedly candid that not only one of the top players on the team believes that but that they admitted it publicly.
Belgium’s claim to fame was reaching #1 in the FIFA Rankings for a total of 48 months but they got there through strategic scheduling of games and it’s not necessarily because they were the best team in the world. Great, but not the best. When it got time to prove that #1 ranking on the pitch, Belgium largely disappointed.
This “golden generation” Belgium squad of the 2010s reached the semifinals of a major competition once (2018 FIFA World Cup) and was knocked out in the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup, as well as Euro 2016 and 2020. It should be noted that in three of those four tournaments, Belgium was knocked out by a team who made the final so they were at least defeated by the best.
Despite De Bruyne’s feelings, Belgium got off to a good start. Even though Canada played them tough, Belgium got a 1-0 victory and is top of their group. Whether or not they can keep that up is anyone’s guess.