If this match is any indication, Belgium aren’t going to be boring to watch at the World Cup this summer. Armed with plenty of attacking talent but also defensive vulnerabilities — a familiar story, despite a back three that includes Premier League stalwarts Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld — the Red Devils showcased all their qualities in today’s 4-0 friendly win over Saudi Arabia.
Eden Hazard nominally started as the no.10, but he had the freedom to roam and did so, popping up left, right and center (but not at left-back). It was from the center that he took a pass, dribbled through a few challenges and slid Romelu Lukaku through for his (easy) second goal.
Just before being substituted in the second half, Eden also had a shot cleared off the line by a defender.
His replacement was Michy Batshuayi, who planted himself on the left wing and actually looked decent, putting a deep pull-back cross into the box that could easily have led to a goal.
Bats, as he’s wont to do these confidence-inducing days, got his name on the scoresheet in the 77th minute, collecting a moon-ball cross from Kevin De Bruyne and after some fancy footwork (including, it must be said, a questionable first touch) he placed it inside the far post.
Michy moved into the middle when Lukaku came off and again showed that when he plays in a scheme that doesn’t rely on a target centre-forward, he’s a very useful player. In fact, with better chest control he could have had a second goal, even.
So Belgium did what was expected of them. They trounced a weak Saudi team, Lukaku was dominant, Hazard was everywhere and Batshuayi was convincing. But this performance suggests that against better opposition in Russia, they may be involved in some high-scoring affairs. And that will make them must-watch TV come July.