There are countries that have a surplus of great soccer players, who every four years have problems choosing among so much talent, while others must wait decades to concentrate a handful of stars that allow them to sneak into the World Cup favourites, as is the case of Belgium. , who has been excited for the last decade with her golden generation until the sad epilogue in Qatar, eliminated in the group stage. A disappointment and for now the great surprise of the tournament that caused the goodbye in the press conference of his coach, Robert Martínez, whose contract expired after the competition. The Belgians, third in Russia 2018, their best ranking in a World Cup event, reached the last day forced to beat a tough nut to crack like Croatia, current runner-up, and did not go beyond a goalless draw, a result that did earn them the Croats to go to the round of 16.
The 'final' against the Balkans was preceded by the poor performance of the 'red devils' in the two previous games and with cross statements between Vertonghen and Kevin de Bruyne, who described his team as “too old”. Despite the bad atmosphere in the locker room, they forgot their tensions as soon as they jumped onto the pitch of the Ahmad bin Ali stadium, where neither the late Hazard, who entered in the 87th minute, nor Lukaku, who wasted three goals in the second half, started at the start. sung.
With Mertens, Trossard and Carrasco in the attacking field, Belgium arrived with danger in the initial stretch. Carrasco was able to score after a great cross to the far post, but preferred to control the ball because of the low angle, and just two minutes later Mertens shot high in an unbeatable position after a great drive from De Bruyne. The good Belgian sensations were nipped in the bud in minute 15, when a penalty was awarded to the Croats for a stomp on Kramaric by Carrasco. But when Modric was already challenging Courtois from eleven meters, the referee, the Englishman Anthony Taylor, went to the VAR screen to analyze a previous offside. After looking carefully at the image, trying to distinguish between pixels and defying the 12 cameras and the chip on the ball that controls the position of the players, the referee ruled that Lovren's shoulder was one millimeter advanced, perhaps less. The decision, improbable and surreal, froze the two teams, who went from exchanging blows to lowering their heart rate, with more football control and at the same time more boring, without clear chances until the break.
After the restart, both teams pulled out their nails again. First, Croatia hovered around the goal, with a shot from Modric that Courtois repelled, and later came Lukaku's festival of errors, entered at the start of the second half. Carrasco lingered too long in the area and the dead ball was caught by the striker, who saw his shot into an empty goal crash into the post and wander past the goal line. The misfortune of the Inter player, who arrived at the World Cup injured, continued with a cross from De Bruyne who headed wide with everything in his favour, although the ball had crossed the end line beforehand. He again pardoned a shot from Meunier that bounced off his leg before licking the post and he also missed a shot from the right that he did not expect. In the final whirlwind attack, he could still be the Belgian hero in the 92nd minute, but Gvardiol, providential, denied him the shot. Lukaku paid for his mistakes with the plastic from one of the benches, which ended up destroyed. He was the final image of a golden generation that withers without glory days.
Croatia: Dominik Livakovic; Josip Juranovic, Dejan Lovren, Josko Guardiol, Borna Sosa; Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic (Lovro Majer, m.91) Luka Modric; Andrej Kramaric, Marko Livaja (Bruno Petkovic, m.64) and Andrej Kramaric (Mario Pasalic, m.64).
Belgium: Thibaut Courtois; Timothy Castagne, Thomas Meunier (Eden Hazard, 87), Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Yannick Carrasco (Jeremy Doku, 72); Leander Dendoncker (72), Axel Witsel; Kevin De Bruyne, Dries Mertens (Romelu Lukaku, 46) and Leandro Trossard (Thorgan Hazard, 58).
Referee: Anthony Taylor (England). I admonish Dendoncker (m.66) from Belgium.
Incidents: Match corresponding to the third day of group F of the Qatar 2022 World Cup played at the Ahmad Bin Ali stadium before 43,984 spectators, according to official data.