Which players were in contention for a place in Belgium‘s XI against Switzerland?
Real luxury of choice for Thys. Not only did he have the world leading goalkeeper Michel Preud’homme (KV Mechelen), but even a more than able deputy in Gilbert Bodart (Standard). Third choice goalkeeper appeared to be Philippe Vande Walle (Club Brugge).
Thys would either pick a back line consisting of fire our five men. He was a big fan of the athleticism of Stéphane Demol (Bologna), who he looked to pair as a libero with tough central defender Lei Clijsters (KV Mechelen). In the latter position he could also call upon the more skillful Georges Grün (Anderlecht), especially if playing in a 5-3-2. Grün could also make use of himself as a right back, where Thys of course also had the vastly experienced Eric Gerets (PSV). There had been a new face on left back against Brazil, where Thys played the young Bruno Versavel (KV Mechelen), usually a left midfielder for his club team. If he wanted more experience, he could rely on Patric Vervoort (Anderlecht).
The central midfield pair was expected to be Franky Van Der Elst (Club Brügge) and Enzo Scifo (Bordeaux). Scifo looked to have stagnated a bit since the 1986 World Cup, but it would be hard to look beyond him. Marc Degryse (Club Brügge) was however knocking on the door to the national team, and it was expected that he would give Scifo some competition. If opting for a 5-3-2, it seemed unlikely that Thys would pick both Scifo and Degryse. An option then could be to move Jan Ceulemans (Club Brügge), who otherwise was a certain starter as striker, down to play in midfield.
If Thys wanted a left midfielder with good crosses, there was Franky Vercauteren (Nantes). If he wanted more stamina and work rate, there was the aforementioned Vervoort. Raymond Mommens (Charleroi) had been a fringe player for Belgium for more than 10 years, and had made his last appearance as late as in March that year. The position as right sided midfielder looked very open, and was perhaps the one Thys was least sure about. Thys had recalled Danny Veyt (RFC Liège) for the Brazil match – a figure well known from Mexico 86, but who hadn’t played much since then. Young Marc Emmers (KV Mechelen) could be an option, as could Peter Creve (Club Brügge).
The one question for Thys in this department, was who would partner Big Jan. It looked to be either the skillful Luc Nilis (Anderlecht) or the nimble Francis Severeyns (Pisa). Another candidate was Marc Van Der Linden (Antwerpen), an all-round forward. Marc Degryse could also come into contention in this position. It could not even be ruled out that Hans Christiaens (Waregem) would be the player to start on top for Belgium against Switzerland.