On a night when soccer seemed to matter a little less and the Russians vehemently booed Belgium by getting on their knees, Romelu Lukaku demonstrated why he will be Belgium’s standout star at Euro 2020. In a rich vein of form, ‘Big Rom ‘has no time to waste and wants to deliver cutlery for Belgium’s golden generation.
After ten minutes, he took advantage of the hosts’ meek defense and dragged an instant shot around the corner past an unfortunate Anton Shunin. When the center of Dries Mertens entered, the Belgian number nine was in an offside position, but Semenov’s touch marked the beginning of a new phase. Above all, Lukaku proved his lethal instinct as one of the best forwards in the world.
In the absence of both Eden Hazard, a perennially injured fighter at Real Madrid, and Kevin De Bruyne, a victim of Antonio Rudiger’s obstruction in the Champions League final, Lukaku has become much more than just a center forward. . The Inter striker is Belgium’s undisputed leader in these finals, having come a long way since his debut for the national team in 2010 at the age of 17 with then-coach George Leekens when Belgium was in the midst of a generational transition and scored two goals in a friendly. against Russia.
In his first 20 games for Belgium, he managed to score just three goals, far from convincing statistics, but mostly his somewhat awkward style with a strong first touch annoyed most Belgian fans.
That debate dragged on for years, even when Lukaku signed for Manchester United from Everton on a £ 75m move and subsequently failed to convince. In the Premier League, the Belgian was perceived as a flat-court bully and incomplete forward. Lukaku was once again accused of a heavy first touch, poor positioning and, at times, wastefulness in front of goal. As a result, he apparently never convinced his position and generated excessive criticism.
However, it didn’t bother him. On the eve of the World Cup in Russia, Lukaku said he had little to no competition on the national team. He wasn’t bragging, either. He became the all-time record scorer for Belgium. His complete game also improved, especially as Inter coach Antonio Conte has allowed him to play up front and has built his team around the Belgian. Today, Lukaku is among the top five forwards in the world.
Roberto Martínez has consistently praised Lukaku as a first-class forward, but believes that the number nine can develop and improve even further. Do you need to do it? Teams from all over Europe and beyond fear him.
Against Russia, Lukaku’s versatility and intelligence were evident. He fell deep, drifted to the right, dribbled, and generally tormented his opponents. The Russians were limited to long balls in the direction of Artem Dzyuba and half chances, sending partisan fans in the stands into a brief frenzy, but they were never able to match Lukaku and his team.
Substitute Thomas Meunier relied on Lukaku’s opening goal and Belgium never needed to accelerate against poor Russia in a match that allowed the ‘Red Devils’ to break through the tournament in flawless style. The second half became a simple training exercise for Martinez’s team, controlling possession to protect the lead. As the match wore on, Lukaku completed the victory 3-0, beating Semonov to launch a low right-foot shot that edged Shunin at the near post.
At the final whistle, Lukaku knelt down and prayed to the gods. He had done everything right in Saint Petersburg: he fought against racism, supported his friend Christian Eriksen with the words ‘Chris, I love you’ and underlined that he is Belgium’s most indispensable player with a double. Lukaku proved to be right: he is in Euro 2020 to win it.