Belgium hardly look like potential European football kings
Red Devils' golden generation shine only when they're in the mood
(Blerim Dzemaili 31)
(Romelu Lukaku 34, Kevin de Bruyne 83)
Belgium continue to exude the swagger of a champion thoroughbred - but only when the mood strikes them.
As the countdown to Euro 2016 edges ever nearer, Marc Wilmots' side are belatedly turning on the style and threatening to finally live up to the long-standing weight of expectancy that has hung over them since before the 2014 World Cup.
Until Kevin de Bruyne's late, winning thunderbolt, the evidence on show during their 2-1 friendly win over Switzerland last night (Singapore time) suggested there was little to inspire confidence that the long-standing hype surrounding them is justified.
This golden generation have always been tipped for greatness in the same way that Arsenal's Theo Walcott has been perennially on the verge of fulfilling his potential.
Just as the former England international, now 27, is no longer deemed a prodigious talent, Belgium's Red Devils are no longer considered to be unlikely challengers.
Yet, they appear intent on lurking behind their outdated billing as international football's dark horses.
To witness the leisurely approach they have taken to their preparations for the Finals next month, Wilmots' players are either no further along in their attempt to realise their potential, or unwilling to exert themselves in the build-up to France.
Too many high-profile figures are, seemingly, happier to rest on their laurels until the opportune moment, on this summer's grandest stage at Euro 2016.
A forward line boasting the likes of de Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku should have made light work of a Switzerland defence propped up by two English Premier League has-beens in Philippe Senderos and Johan Djourou.
Yet, it was the polar opposite which rang true for large parts of this encounter.
Such arrogance will be fatal when they go up against the likes of Italy, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland in Group E, in a fortnight's time.
De Bruyne's singular moment of brilliance, seven minutes from time, was an encouraging footnote that underlined the Manchester City attacker's brilliance in the midst of his injury comeback.
Hazard, however, has little grounds for complaint after another largely ineffectual performance. So, too, does his former Chelsea team mate Lukaku - if not more.
The 23-year-old's withdrawal by Wilmots, just shy of the hour mark, actually proved to be a blessing as his head appeared to be anywhere but the Stade de Geneve, as it has been in recent months as the deliberation over his club future continues to play out in public.
His instantaneous response to Blerim Dzemaili's opener for Switzerland belied the overall demeanour of a player who has talked a far better game than any he has played of late.
Lukaku's inconsistency continues to mirror Belgium's cocksure nature.
Few strikers in European football have been as devastating as the Everton marksman, but the caveat remains with his reluctance to scale those heights on a frequent basis.
That complacency will come at a far greater cost in France next month.
"I’m arriving at the Euros at 100 per cent, at full strength — hopefully it will go well... Nearly everyone is at 100 per cent, we’re not worried. and up front, we have maybe the best generation (of players in Belgium’s history)."
— Belgium star Eden Hazard