Formidable in qualifying and boasting one of the game’s great playmakers, a goalkeeper fallout marred preparations

Romelu Lukaku addresses teammates in March before the friendly against England – Belgium wore their new Tintin-inspired kit in the 2-2 draw. Photograph: Michael Regan/The FA/Getty Images

This article is part of the Guardian’s Euro 2024 Experts’ Network, a cooperation between some of the best media organisations from the 24 countries who qualified – is running previews from two countries each day in the run-up to the tournament kicking off on 14 June.


At the time of writing Belgium have yet to lose a game under Domenico Tedesco, who has been in charge since March 2023. In their qualifying group, the Red Devils collected an impressive 20 points from a possible 24 in a group that also included Austria and Sweden. However, their biggest scalp under Tedesco came in his second game when they won 3-2 away against Germany.

The German-Italian coach prefers a 4-3-3 formation, which means that the three-man defence utilised by his predecessor, Roberto Martínez, is a thing of the past. Despite impressive results Belgium are not among the favourites for the tournament, mainly because many members of the so-called Golden Generation have retired from international football or retired full stop.

Compared to the squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Eden Hazard, Axel Witsel and Toby Alderweireld are just three of the players no longer involved. Tedesco saw his chance to give the squad an injection of energy and has been calling up players such as Johan Bakayoko (21, PSV Eindhoven), Dodi Lukebakio (26, Sevilla) and Orel Mangala (26, Lyon), among others.

There will be one notable absentee at Euro 2024 and that is Thibaut Courtois. The Real Madrid goalkeeper, unlike some of his compatriots, had not planned to announce his retirement after the World Cup but has fallen out with Tedesco. After a dispute with the coach regarding the captain’s armband, Courtois accused the national coach of a “breach of trust”.

At the end of 2023 Courtois announced he would not be fit for the European Championship finals tournament and ruled himself out. Then he returned for Real Madrid to help them seal La Liga and victory in the Champions League final. His absence threatens to hang over the Red Devils in Germany.