How will this so-called 'Golden Generation' (with players from various top competitions such as Lukaku, De Bruyne, Hazard, Mertens, Fellaini and Courtois and from teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona, Napoli, Monaco, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain etc.) be remembered? As heroes who were shining in Russia, or as a talented and gifted generation that lacked results and never got beyong the quarter-final stage at the World Cup? Tonight's game in Kazan will be crucial, and there may be some extra help.
The data and statistics are about players' positions, among other things. When Belgium scored the 3-2 winner against Japan in the dying minutes of the game, members of the data analyst office in Enschede were beaming. "We had analysed the winning goal a number of times", says Giels Brouwer of Sci Sports, who cooperate closely with the Belgian national football team.
How will this 'Golden Generation' be remembered?
Modern football is about more than your own tactics. It involves many data about the opponents, not just the players' individual skills, but also their positions during a match. "How do the Japanese players take their positions at a corner, and how can Belgium set up a counter-attack? We analysed and prepared this together with the Belgian coach Martinez. If it works in the final minutes, then it's great."
SciSports also prepared a report about Brazil, the next Belgian opponent. "We have been monitoring Brazil extra the whole tournament. Their play is a lot different when they play with Felipe Luis or Marcelo as left back. Also, their corner kicks from left and right are very different. But I can't tell more."