Tag: Belgium

The 200% World Cup: World Cup Breakfast, Day 6 – Brazil Misfires

It’s difficult to imagine from the outside what the pressure on a host nation can be like at a World Cup finals. Host nations that might otherwise have not won the tournament have done previsely that before, and the pressure on Brazil is surely only pushed up a couple of levels because of the nation’s heritage in this competition. Last night, the pressure started to tell a little as Brazil played out a lifeless goalless draw against Mexico in a match during which the hosts never fully came to life and might even have lost it in its closing...

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The 200% World Cup: Belgium vs Algeria – Live!

Football hipsters will be refilling their tankards with a favourite craft ale, neatly combing their beard and nervously smoothing down their lucky Keegan-era Hamburger SV shirt this afternoon, as the most extravagantly hyped dark horse team in World Cup history step into the fray. Belgium are the latest in a long line of international teams to be able to declare a golden generation of players, boasting European stars like Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard all looking to make a name for themselves on the global stage. However, the Red Devils are by no means reliant on a handful of superstar players....

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European Championship Stories: 2000 – Belgium, The Nearly Men

On the sixth of December 2011, Belgium finally ended a record-breaking run of five hundred and forty-one days without a formal government when new Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo was sworn in by King Albert II in Brussels. Following the general election of June 2011, the fragmented political landscape was represented by eleven different political parties taking seats in the Chamber of Representatives, but with none of them having more than twenty per cent of them. Attempts to form a coalition of government proved fruitless until the credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded Belgium’s credit rating to AA from AA+, making it more expensive for the country to borrow, and it was this that finally provided enough of a jolt to the country’s political system to bring it together. There is a certain irony in the fact that the country that is the home of the city regarded as the de facto capital of Europe, Brussels, should not even have been able to find unity within itself for a period of over a year and a half. In this, the crisis of the Belgian government perhaps mirrors a broader crisis of confidence in the European project. Yet it was only a little more than a decade ago that the concept of European Union was at the height of it popularity, with one of the common political narratives of...

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World Cup Tales: Reflections Upon England In Italy, 1990

The concept of England having a high level of expectation at the time of a World Cup finals is a comparatively recent one. As recently as 1990, most adults could remember their two successive failures to qualify for the whole event and, once there, they only seldom lit the tournament up. In 1982, a good performance in the opening match against France was followed by an almost linear deterioration in performance, which ended in their elimination in the second group round after two goalless draws against West Germany and Spain. Much was made of the fact that they were eliminated, due to the peculiar tournament structure, unbeaten, but they only scored one goal in their final three matches. Four years later, Diego Maradona’s various antics overshadowed a slow start that saw them lose to Portugal and draw with Morocco before Gary Lineker’s goals breathed some life into them. Going into the 1990 World Cup finals, there was little for England supporters to be particularly optimistic about. Their performance at the 1988 European Championships had been abject and, while their final qualification group table for the trip to Italy looked comfortable, the four point gap between them in second place and Poland in third place was somewhat deceptive. A goalless draw in Chorzow against Poland had guaranteed their place, but defeat would likely have eliminated them. In addition to this, the...

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