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Belgium in danger of Euro flop as vital Romania clash looms

Belgium are in danger of an embarrassing early exit from Euro 2024 as the serial underachievers face a crunch clash with Romania on Saturday. After…

Belgium are in danger of an embarrassing early exit from Euro 2024 as the serial underachievers face a crunch clash with Romania on Saturday.

After a shock 1-0 loss to Slovakia in their Group E opener, Domenico Tedesco’s side will be pushed to the brink of elimination if they suffer a second successive defeat this weekend in Cologne.

Belgium will be unable to finish in the top two if they lose to Romania and Ukraine do not beat Slovakia, with their hopes of going through as one of the four best third-placed teams also extremely slim.

Slovakia’s unexpected victory blew Group E wide open, just hours after Romania beat Ukraine 3-0 in the other match in that pool.

Romelu Lukaku missed a host of chances for Belgium and had a late equaliser controversially disallowed by VAR as Slovakia made light of the 45-place gap between the teams in Fifa’s world rankings to cause a major upset.

It was a bitter loss for Belgium, who have so often failed to fulfil their potential at a major tournament.

Belgium’s golden generation has lost much of its lustre since they crashed out of the 2022 World Cup in the group stage.

The Red Devils fell at the quarterfinals in the last two editions of the European Championship, making a third place finish at the 2018 World Cup the highwater mark of a talented but underachieving team once hailed as a potential dynasty.

Tedesco was appointed to replace Roberto Martinez in February 2023 and led Belgium on a 14-match unbeaten run heading into the Euros, but the first loss of his reign has triggered a bout of soul-searching among his shell-shocked players.

Froome left out of team’s Tour de France roster

Britain’s four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome was on Friday left out of Israel Premier Tech’s eight-rider roster for the world’s biggest cycling race for a second straight year.

Canadian Michael Woods, winner of the stage on the Puy-de-Dome summit last year, is also absent from the team which will be lead by compatriot Derek Gee and Welsh rider Stevie Williams.

Gee, 26, finished third in the Criterium du Dauphine earlier this month and 28-year-old Williams won the Fleche Wallonne in April.

“I’m unbelievably excited to be lining up at my first Tour,” Gee said. “It’s truly a childhood dream.”

Froome’s absence is not really a surprise. The 39-year-old won the Tour in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, but has been unable to recapture his form since a serious accident on the Dauphine in 2019.

The race gets underway in Florence, Italy, on June 29 and runs till July 21.

 

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