The talk of ‘golden generations’ has worn a bit thin over the years, and has now become somewhat of a cliché. In Belgium however, nothing could be farther from the truth. Traditionally surrounded by the football powerhouses of Germany, Holland and France – all of whom have enjoyed periods of global domination – the Belgian football revolution is now in full flow, and Saturday’s game between Aston Villa and Everton sees a head-to-head clash between two players with designs on leading the Red Devils’ World Cup campaign.
Last season saw Christian Benteke emerge as one of the brightest stars of the season, and it took an astute piece of man management by Villa manager Paul Lambert to ward off potential suitors and persuade the player to sign a new deal keeping him at Villa Park. Although injury has held him back in the early stages of this season, Villa expect him to be fit and firing for the Everton game.
Opposing him will be a player of the similar mould. Big and powerful, the ideal ‘English-type number nine’ Romelu Lukaku was secured as a teenager by Chelsea and hen loaned out to West Bromwich Albion last season to gain some first team experience. He did more than that. Becoming the Baggies top scorer, he assumed a cult hero status at the Hawthorns earning the chant from the fans of “He comes from Stamford Bridge. He’s bigger than a fridge.” His performances certainly put the freeze on many opponents and it was assumed that he would play an active part in Chelsea’s game plans this term. Jose Mourinho however decided that a further season on loan would be more beneficial in the long run, and he joined Roberto Martinez’s revolution at Everton. Already with a few goals behind him, the raw young striker will be keen to show his worth.
It’s more than a little ironic that the game that has been played more often than any other in the top division of English football should feature two such ’English’ centre forwards, when neither of them hails from this country. That said, it will be a fascinating clash and however manages to dominate most will probably secure the spoils for their team. I can see both Benteke and Lukaku scoring and 1-1 draw the likely result.