Axel Witsel wants Belgium to emulate the success in Russia four years ago as the Red Devils aim for World Cup glory in what could be the last tournament for their ‘Golden Generation’.
A team boasting the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Witsel, Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku has been present for the past decade, significantly improving their fortunes.
Belgium reached the quarter-finals at Brazil 2014 and finished third four years later in Russia – a marked improvement after only passing the last-16 stage once in their first nine appearances (fourth in 1986).
Roberto Martinez’s side lost to eventual champions France in Russia and Witsel hopes to recreate the 2018 showing, as the tournament in Qatar presents the last chance for many of their experienced squad.
“I would say we have even more experience than in 2018. Now time will tell if we are stronger or weaker than in 2018,” the 33-year-old said.
“It’s true that in 2018, we had an extraordinary run. We were all really, collectively, and individually, on top. And that’s what we want to reproduce here. After that, as I said, it’s a different World Cup from the others.
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“The small advantage is that some of us have known each other for ten years, others a little less. But we’ve been together for a long time.
“When you don’t really have time to prepare for a World Cup, I think that’s a point that shouldn’t be overlooked.”
While Belgium are seen as a side that can cause problems for any opponent in the Middle East, Martinez’s team are not ranked among the favourites and Witsel backed Brazil to go all the way.
“In any case, I think it is logical. For me, the great favourite of this tournament is Brazil. But that’s my opinion,” he added,
“I think, when you look at the team they have, you can’t say that we are at that level. For me, Brazil is the big favourite.”
Belgium begin their campaign in Group F against Canada on Wednesday before facing Morocco and Croatia.