Since being announced Belgium manager after the Red Devils endured a tumultuous Euro 2016 campaign in France, Roberto Martinez has stepped up to the task, losing just one of his 26 games in charge of the national side.
What is perhaps more surprising that given his mediocre track record as Everton and Wigan manager, he has proven he has what it takes to deal with an array of world-class superstars in the Belgian side. While it may be premature to make such claims, he appears to be the manager of the World Cup 2018.
On Friday, Belgium proved just why they were a force to be reckoned with when they saw off a stern Brazilian challenge in the quarter-finals. This performance came few days after they were almost knocked out of the competition after going 2-0 down to Japan in the round of 16.
The Red Devils showed character and resilience to bounce back and score three goals in the last half hour to ensure a pathway into the quarters and once again showed their might against the world’s most successful World Cup team in Brazil.
While one can argue that this Selecao side may be nowhere near the sides of the past in terms of quality and swagger, but they did go into the tournament as overwhelming favourites and have, with each passing game, looked a more balanced and fearful unit.
That was until they met the might Red Devils from Europe backed by a disputed tactician. In the game against Brazil, Belgium looked to take control from the outset and never once looked like they would settle for second best.
Being a team that has been all over the place in the past few international tournaments, this Belgian side looked a completely different unit from its predecessors. The likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku have all excelled at club level, but together they’ve stepped up to the occasion and have made Belgium the favourites of the tournament regardless of whichever teams manage to make it to the semi-finals.