The Golden Generation has officially ended as France, who is the second youngest team behind Nigeria in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, defeated Belgium 1-0 in Tuesday’s semi-final. This was the best time for Belgium to make a major impact in soccer, but their efforts were not enough.
Belgium, who has big time names like Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois, Dries Mertens and many more, felt like this World Cup was their greatest chance to win. In 2014, the world got a glimpse of what Belgium could do, and four years later, experience helped young stars like Hazard and Lukaku lead their team to one of the greatest runs in the country’s history. Lukaku was on a tear for most of the tournament, but just like in club play, he struggles to show up in big games. France was able to successfully neutralize him and make him a non-factor.
Samuel Umtiti had the winning goal after outpacing Fellani and heading the ball to the ball into the net. Paul Pogba showed out on defense and forced errors towards the end of the game, once jumping in front of Kevin De Bruyne’s attempt in the box. France is now the definite favorite to win the World Cup Final, where they will face the winner of tomorrow’s matchup between Croatia and England .
The highlight of the tournament for the Golden Generation was their 3-2 comeback victory over Japan in the final fifteen seconds of stoppage time. Although they could’ve given up, they persevered and showed everyone why they deserved more hype than they were given. Belgium’s beautiful play, teamwork, and skill is why so many fell in love with them and this generation.
This isn’t the last time the Belgium national team will be together in a major tournament, but it becomes harder for them to win, considering soccer is a young man’s game. As the team gets older, their chances of winning become slim. Regardless of this team’s future, it was a delight to watch them play.
Photo: FIFA World Cup