The deserved 0:2 was the first World Cup preliminary round defeat in 28 years. In order to make it into the round of 16 on their own, Belgium (three points) must win against runners-up Croatia (four points) on Thursday. Morocco, on the other hand, with four points as well, beckons the first round of 16 at the World Cup in 36 years.
“It’s hard to accept. I’m not used to such behavior from my team. We’ve been a lot more self-confident in the last few years,” said Belgium national coach Roberto Martinez. As in the meager 1-0 win against Canada, the team boss couldn’t rely on his “old stars”. Leaders Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard once again underperformed.
Morocco triumphs over Belgium
Belgium, second in the world rankings, suffered a surprising 2-0 defeat against Morocco on Sunday’s second match day of World Cup Group F.
Uncertainty in Belgium
The Belgian supporters, spoiled by their team in the past with their offensive power and enthusiasm for the game, have to get used to a completely different face of the team this year. After the match, there were riots and clashes with the police in Brussels.
Belgium: riots after match
Riots broke out in Brussels after the Belgian national team lost 2-0 to Morocco in the second group match of the World Cup in Qatar. Around 100 police officers with water cannons had to take action against rioters who destroyed street furniture and threw objects at the officers.
Belgium’s game in Qatar is characterized by individual actions, awkward attacks and serious individual errors. “It has something to do with mentality,” Martinez said. “It looked like we were scared of losing. I don’t know that.” A lot is missing at the moment, especially offensively.
Thanks to the flattering opening victory, the Belgians still have it in their own hands to prevent the first preliminary round in 24 years. “We are in a situation where we have nothing left to lose. We just have to win against Croatia. Then we’ll qualify for the round of 16,” said Martinez. Doubts about a win against the vice world champion are appropriate after the previous performance.
Stars not in top form
In 2018, the Belgians had already scored eight goals after two games, this time only one. A comparison that describes the current condition of the team well. The few players who didn’t leave the stadium in silence after the game reacted with defiance. “But we still have a team where many players can make the difference,” said Timothy Castagne. The problem: These players don’t show it.
The local media are shocked by the previous appearances of the “Rode Duivels” in Qatar. The criticism focuses in particular on top star De Bruyne from Manchester City. “What’s the matter with De Bruyne?” headlined “Het Nieuwsblad”. De Bruyne is visibly annoyed by the shortcomings of some teammates and wants to bang his head against the wall too often.
Captain Hazard, who only plays sporadically at Real Madrid, seems to be more concerned with himself, and star striker Romelu Lukaku was only able to make a brief appearance after a long injury lay-out against Morocco. Even if the 29-year-old Inter Milan goalscorer could play longer against Croatia, he won’t be at his best.
Morocco below Regragui immaculate
With the Moroccans, the situation is very different. Relying on coach Walid Regragui at the end of August seemed to be the right choice. Under the 47-year-old, the team is unbeaten in six games and has not conceded a goal. Hakim Ziyech also played a part in this.
Under Regragui, the Chelsea player is again part of a team from which he resigned in mid-2021 after disagreements with ex-coach Valid Halilhodzic. So it’s no wonder that Regragui is already being celebrated at home. “Having four points after two games against Croatia and Belgium is outstanding for Morocco,” said Regragui. “But if we don’t deal with it respectfully now, we won’t achieve anything.” His team is still missing a point from the last group game against Canada (Thursday, 4 p.m., live on ORF1).
FIFA World Cup 2022, Group F, second match day
Belgium – Morocco 0:2 (0:0)
Doha, Al Thumama Stadium, 43,738 spectators, SR Ramos (MEX)
0:1 Sabiri (73.)
0:2 Aboukhlal (92.)
Belgium: Courtois – Meunier (81./Lukaku), Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Castagne – Onana (60./Tielemans), Witsel, T. Hazard (75./Trossard) – De Bruyne, Batshuayi (75./De Ketelaere), E. Hazard (60./Mertens)
Morocco: Munir – Hakimi (68./Attiat-Allah), Aguerd, Saiss, Mazraoui – Ounahi (78./El Yamiq), Amrabat, Amallah (68./Sabiri) – Ziyech, En-Nesyri (73./Hamdallah), Boufal (73./Abuchlal)
Yellow cards: Onana and Sabiri
The best: none or Ziyech, Boufal, Saiss