09.10.20 International League Division A Group 3
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So the next international window starts with an unwanted shock result. We simply weren't at the races in the game and Denmark outplayed us from start to finish. The groups are so small in this tournament that every result really matters so we can't afford many games like this!

13.10.20 International League Division A Group 3
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We can take a few more results like this though. We start in the defensive 3-5-2 and France pile on the pressure. To begin with though, we keep them out. It doesn't last though and corner finds its way to Kante. Courtois makes the first save but Laporte is there to tap home the rebound. This forces us to go on the front foot so I switch formation and bring on both Hazard and Carrascco. This does the job as a Hazard cross finds Witzel who scores via Varane and then Carrasco sends us in front with a super chip after being put through by Lukaku.
17.11.20 International League Division A Group 3
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This is a one game window. We just needed a draw against Denmark and we would top the group. We get much more than that though. A De Bruyne free kick puts us ahead, Carrasco scores on the end of super passing move by Hazard and Lukaku and then a ball over the top is missed by Kjaer but not by Lukaku who slams home. We're 3-0 up within the half hour and a comfortable win sees us with another semi-final and another game against Germany ...
26.03.21 World Cup Qualification Group 8
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Before we get to face Germany in the Europe League semi, we have World Cup qualification to deal with. Our first game, in another single-match window, is against Spain and it sees us worryingly outplayed. Morata leads from the off, giving them the lead within the first 11 mins. From there on, we're no-where near and they go on to score a hatful and we're left with one Hazard goal.

12.06.21 - World Cup Qualification Group 8
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Our next window sees us play Kosovo both home and away. For the first of these games, I took the decision to drop Belgium stalwart, Jan Vertonghan. The game against Spain exposed the fact that, by 2021, his pace has dropped to single figures and so I move on. His replacement gets himself sent off though so Jan returns to the field for the second half. Even with ten men though, Kosovo are comfortably beat and we get ready to go over to their place.

15.06.21 - World Cup Qualification Group 8
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So Jan gets an internation reprieve thanks to the red card in the previous match. This time, we get the scoring done early thanks to a cute dinked Hazard finish and a Tielemans thunderbolt which is deflected leaving the keeper helpless. At this point, we're top of the group but Spain have a crucial game in hand...
19.06.21 European Nations League Semi-Final
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What a turnaround! Conceding a couple of early goals had me fearing the worst along with Lukaku having a mare of a game. At half-time, I brought on the youngster Lenarts and he does the damage with a superb brace. A goal from Origi makes it three and we're through to the final in the most dramatic fashion...

22.06.21 European Nations League Final
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And we win - my first silverware on this save! Following a barren few games for Lukaku and his heroics in the last game, I make the big move of starting the youngster up front. This pays off as, just before a tight, tough game goes to penalties, the young striker scores the dramatic goal which hands us a tournament win! Surely this bodes well for the future...

02.09.21 World Cup Qualification Group 8
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Our next World Cup game sees us come up againt a tough Estonia side. Our opponents managed to get a draw against Spain so we knew we were in for a hard match. A first half Lenearts strike put us a goal up and at half time I warned not to be complacent. This time, the team responded well and a quickfire brace from the wingers secures the win.

05.09.21 World Cup Qualification Group 8
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Over these two games, both Vertonghan and his initial replacemnt have been missing so another youngster, Carlier, has made left back his own. This game was much closer than the final score suggests with Georgia having a potential 87th minute penalty leveller saved. But we survived and on we go to the next window...
06.10.21 Friendly
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I took this friendly space as a chance to set up against a team around our level in the rankings. And what a result! We dominate the game from start to finish and move on to our next game.

09.10.21 World Cup Qualification Group 8
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So we've been top of the group up till now but only because Spain have had a game in hand. And this is it. Despite us being the home team, they run the match and we never had a look-in. It's clear that we'll finish second in the group but we've still got to do as well as possible to be one of the best second placed teams...
12.11.21 World Cup Qualification Group 8
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We need to do as well as possible in these game but Estonia make it tough. It's still 0-0 at half time and it takes our best players to make the break-throughs and give us the win. One more game to go!

15.11.21 World Cup Qualification Group 8
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And what a way to finish. We put five goals past Georgia in our last match. This puts us top of the second place teams and so we're going to the World Cup! When I read that Germany had failed to qualify, it sinks in just how lucky we are. Now we can go on to achieve our goal and smash past the team's previous performance.
25.03.22 Friendly
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The two March games are both friendlies to allow me to make the final selections before the forthcoming World Cup. Over the last few games, I've noticed that Lenaerts' goalscoring has run dry so I figured that it was time to give Lukaku a chance to win his place back. And how he does it! I'll give Lenaerts a chance in the next game but it looks like it's going to be a tough call.

29.03.22 Friendly
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So the next game comes and Leanarts doesn't really take his chance. Origi does though despite the fact that he's not even playing as the leading striker. As they say, it's the best of the tough decision types a manager can have to face! The next games will be World Cup warm up games.
So before the warm-up friendlies are played, I need to pick the final Belgium squad. In the extended squad, I take a last look at Vertonghan and a first look at the top Belgian League scorer, a young regen, but in the end I decide that neither of them have the quality needed to break into the squad.

And, as I did for WC 2018, I shall profile the key players for each position in the team.

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Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois, 30, Chelsea
In this alternate reality, the Belgian stopper has remained at Chelsea, picking up a Champions' League and EFLCup medal in the years since 2018. He also remains the key stopper for Belgium and is trusted to be man between the sticks for this vital WC game.

Defender: Toby Alderweireld, 33, Tottenham Hotspur
And, as above, loyalty seems to be the key. The Spurs vice-captain is still at the club and still managed by Poch. In the years since 2018, the club have been runners up in the FA Cup, EFL Cup and Europa League. Perhaps this is his best chance for a trophy!

Midfield: Radja Nainggolan, 34, AS Roma

The age of each player reveals how Belgium’s golden generation is entering its last chance saloon. It’s also the case that country hasn’t looked like producing a new team capable of matching their achievements. It’s now or never for the squad.

Wing: Eden Hazard, 31, Real Madrid
Following an £80 million move to Madrid in 2017/18, Hazard has continued to dominate in the game. At club level, he’s won two la ligas, the champions’ League and the Copa Del Rey. Let’s hope he brings that form into the World Cup.

Forward: Wim Lenaerts, 21, Chelsea
This is the key youngster in the Belgian squad. Having made a £37 million move to Chelsea at the beginning of this season, the young striker has found first team football harder to come by but has come to lead the line for his country. Perhaps this tournament can spur him on to greatness.
31.05.22 Friendly
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Two early goals at the end of two smooth passing moves sees our first-choice team win this game at a canter. It still leaves us without either first team striker scoring though. Lenaerts does make his made through a well made crossing assist but I hope this potentially misfiring frontline doesn't cost us dear when we get to the tournament.

06.06.22 Friendly
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For this game, I put out the second XI so as not to risk any injuries prior to the tournament. To begin with, things go well and we take a comfortable 2-0 in the 69th mintue. They pull one back through a corner and then the fun really begins. Their equaliser is courtesy of a 25-yard thunderbolt and, from our kick-off, they gain possession, carve our defence apart and score. Not ideal before the tournament!

So now we march on the World Cup. If you remember, my aim was to restore some Belgian pride following three defeats and a solitary goal in WC18. So ... Here we go...

13.06.22 World Cup Group E
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So is redemption possible in one match? As I said before, the aim here was to restore Belgium's pride in a World Cup and what a way to start! I was nervous about this game as I saw Uruguay and us competing for the same spot to get out of the group but needn't have worried. We scored early and went on to dominate the game comfortably. One more win and we're already out of the group! We also have two early golden boot contenders in our hattrick heroes!

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18.06.22 World Cup Group E

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And that win we need doesn't come easy. Unlike our friendly against the team from down-under, they're ready to play this time and make life hard for us. Part-way through the second half, I even have to Hazard and Lenaerts off as neither of them seem able to break through. This risky moves comes off though as Origi (Hazard's replacement) sends a cross over and a rash Austrailian push sees us win the penalty. With Hazard off the pitch, Carrasco steps up and sends us through to the knockout round. Here we go!

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23.06.18 World Cup Group E

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Having qualified with two wins out of two, I put out the reserves here to finish the group stage. We know that a draw will see us top the group and for the first half hour or so, everything is fine. But then, in the next ten minutes, we have a man sent off and Portugal steal a goal on the break just before HT. We open the game up to chase a result and so Portugal secure a second a win the game.

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So, overall, we finish second in the group behind eventual leaders Portugal. It was always a bit of gamble either way - play the best team and risk tiredness and injuries or play the reserves and risk not topping the group. Let's see what the first knockout round brings...

27.06.22 World Cup First Knockout Round
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And it brings Brazil!And a game of what-might-have-been. The game opens with Firmino shoving Alderweireld over and Belgium getting a penalty. Hazard then shoots to his right but sees it saved. A minute later, Brazil give the ball away from a goal kick and Hazard knocks the ball gently into the Brazil keeper's arms. Ten minutes later, Brazilian left-back, Jorge, opens up our defence and we're a goal down. We go on to chase the game with Lukaku being put through but missing a glaring chance just before HT. We carry on pushing forward after the break but, inevitably, Brazil hit us on the break and it's all over.
And so this save comes to an end. Belgium are out of the World Cup and, while the Beglian board and media are none-too-impressed with the national team's efforts, I do feel that the team has generally done all right over my four years in charge. I think, if I look back on the save, the there are a few things I'm pretty pleased with:

World Cup 2018 South Africa 1-2 Iran
The South Africa team I'd put together weren't even expected to get to this world cup so to get a win here was pretty amazing. It's just a shame that we didn't get any more.

Euro International League Final 2021 Belgium 1-0 Portugual
This had to be here as it's my only silverware of the save. A closely-fought final was decided in the last few minutes by a young striker just making his name in the game - fairytale stuff!

World Cup 2022 Belgium 7-1 Uruguay
When I saw the group we'd got for the World Cup, I was seriously concerned that Uruguay could beat us out of the group stage. As it was, our opening game of the tournament was an absolute barn-stormer and quite possibly the greatest highlight of my managerial career!

So, as I said above, this save is now complete! Thanks to everyone that's followed this story. I'd never imagined that I'd have over 1k views even before I'd got to the end of the story. I want to say thanks to DerbyJack who inspired me to write this save and whose general format I've adopted for this. If you've enjoyed following this, it would be great to hear from you. Let me know what you liked and what international challenges you'd like to see me try on FM19! See you out there!