Belgium national football team

The Belgium national football team have a long history in international football. Their first official game was in 1904, a high scoring 3-3 draw with France. Although most footballers will associate the nickname The Red Devils with Manchester United, it is also the nickname given to the Belgium national football team. It came from their traditional shirt colour of red and was actually coined in 1906 after a 3-2 win over the Netherlands.

Over the next few decades the Belgium national football team developed themselves as a physical and organised side. They were never skilled enough to challenge for major honours but gave the bigger nations tough games at home as well as held their own in the big tournaments. They have made it to eleven world cup finals tournaments, and between 1982 and 2002 they qualified for six world cups in a row. Since their appearance in 2002 they have failed to make it to another world cup from the following two attempts. During those six world cup tournaments they only failed to make it out of the group stage once.

World cup 1930

The 1930 world cup was the first ever edition of FIFA’s showpiece tournament. Held in Uruguay the competition did not feature many of the top European sides because of the travel involved. The final came down to Uruguay and Argentina with the hosts coming out on top 4-2. The Belgium national football team did make the trip but they may have wished they hadn’t. They only played two games, a 3-0 loss to the United States and a 1-0 loss to Paraguay. They finished bottom of the group and were on their way home.

World cup 1934

Unlike in 1930 the teams competing in the 1934 world cup had to qualify. This time the tournament travelled to Europe and was held in Italy. Once again the tournament was won by the hosts as Italy beat Czechoslovakia 2-1 in the final. Another change from four years previously was that the group stages were discarded in favour of a straight knockout phase. The Belgium national football team again did not fair well as they lost their first game and were eliminated. The team went down 5-2 to Germany.

World cup 1938

The 1938 world cup was once again on European soil, much to the frustration of the South American nations who expected it to return to them. Argentina and Uruguay even withdrew in protest. France hosted the tournament but did not win it. Italy managed to retain the championship after beating Hungary 4-2 in the final. Again the Belgium national football team played one and lost one as they were eliminated in the first round. This time it was neighbours France who beat them 3-1.

World cup 1954

1954 was the fifth edition of the world cup because of the second world war. Group stages were back in fashion in Switzerland and the competition was eventually won by West Germany who beat Hungary 3-2 in the final. The Belgium national football team did manage a point this time but they still finished bottom of the group. A draw with England was followed up with a 4-1 loss to Italy.

World cup 1970

It was not until 1970 that the Belgium national football team qualified again for a world cup. Mexico were the hosts which was the first time the tournament had been held in North America and the first time it had been outside of South America and Europe. This was finally the year where Belgium won their first ever world cup match but still did not manage to get out of the group stage. An opening 3-0 win over El Salvador was unfortunately followed up by two defeats against the Soviet Union and Mexico. The side at least did not finish bottom of the group.

World cup 1982

In 1982 the world cup machine travelled back to Europe and was hosted by Spain. Italy were once again lifting the trophy at the end, beating West Germany 3-1 in the final. 1982 proved to be a major upturn in fortunes for the Belgium national football team. Things began with a 1-0 win over reigning champions Argentina, and a 1-0 win over El Salvador. A final group stage draw against Hungary saw them progress for the first time, and also as top of the group. Group stages were very much in fashion as now we had two sets. This second one did not go as well as the first. A 3-0 loss to Poland was followed by a 1-0 loss to the Soviet Union and with that they were eliminated.

World cup 1986

The 1986 world cup returned to Mexico. The tournament was eventually won by Argentina who defeated West Germany 3-2 in the final. The Belgium national football team again progressed through their group but it was a little closer than last time. A loss to Mexico in the opening game was followed up with a win and a draw which saw them qualify as one of the best third-placed teams. Onto the last sixteen and Belgium were up against the Soviet Union. In a dramatic game the two teams battled out a 2-2 draw after 90 minutes. There were three more goals in extra-time and Belgium eventually triumphed 4-3. It was even closer in the quarter final as Belgium once again squeezed through, this time on penalties after a 1-1 draw with Spain. By the semi-final the team had played back-to-back 120 minute matches and were against eventual winners Argentina. A 2-0 defeat saw them drop into the third-placed playoff against France. Another extra-time game saw them eventually lose 4-2 and finish fourth. This still represents the Belgium national football team’s best finish in a world cup to date.

World cup 1990

Italy were the hosts of the world cup in 1990. The final proved to be a reversal of four years previously with West Germany beating Argentina 1-0 in the final. This was the last time West Germany competed as the country reunified later that year. The Belgium national football team put in a strong performance in the group stage and had qualified after just two games. A final game defeat to Spain saw them lose out in the battle for top and progress in second place. This was as good as it got for Belgium as they lost out to England in the last sixteen.

World cup 1994

The 1994 world cup was a tournament of firsts. Brazil won the competition and became the first team to win it four times. The final also went to penalties and became the first to be decided this way. Held in the United States the tournament also set a record for average attendance which still stands today. In a tight group the top three groups all finished on six points after two wins and a loss. The Belgium national football team progressed as a best third-placed team. Again it was the last sixteen which proved to be the stumbling block for the side although it was to Germany in a 3-2 defeat.

World cup 1998

The world cup in 1998 was in Europe and hosted by France. The hosts won the tournament after beating Brazil 3-0 in the final. The tournament was a set back for the Belgium national football team as they did not manage to progress from the group. They did not lose a game but they did not win one either. Three draws left them in third place and eliminated from the competition.

World cup 2002

The 2002 world cup became the first to be held in Asia and the first to be jointly hosted by two countries. Japan and South Korea held the tournament which was won by Brazil for a record fifth time after they beat Germany 2-0 in the final. The Belgium national football team drew their opening two games but avoided a repeat of 1998 by winning the qualifying decider with Russia 3-2. Progressing in second place resulted in the team facing Brazil in the last sixteen and you can guess the result. A 2-0 loss represents the last world cup match for the team to date.

World cup 2014


The Belgium national football team will be very keen to end the run of failing to qualify for world cup finals. The squad was unlucky to miss out on qualifying for Euro 2012 but with an added two years to build and develop, I feel they are in a strong position to make it to Brazil 2014. The squad is now filled with talented players who are playing around Europe. Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen have proven themselves to be two of the best centre-backs in the Premier League. Fellaini and now Eden Hazard are also plying their trade in England. They have stars in the Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and German leagues, so have the necessary experience to succeed.  Croatia are their nearest competitors as a top two place is guaranteed. With three games remaining the away trip to Croatia may prove to be a crucial game.

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