Overview of player
Thomas Meunier is a 26 year old right back that plays for Paris Saint Germain in France’s Ligue 1 division. Meunier was brought in to PSG from Belgium side Club Brugge on the 3rd of July 2016 for a fee reported to be 7 million euros. Prior to his move, Thomas had admitted doubts on whether he would lack playing time at PSG. This proved evident during his first season. His first competitive appearance for PSG came on the 6th of August, where he came on to replace David Luiz in the 76th minute of the 2016 French Super Cup. He then unfortunately played a role as an unused substitute for the next few matches until his league debut for the club in a 3-1 loss to Monaco. Since his debut, Meunier found himself competing with Serge Aurier for a starting position, but often found himself on the substitutes bench. Even after Serge Aurier’s departure to Tottenham in August 2017, he still competed for the right-back position with the newly recruited Dani Alves.
Even though Meunier has not yet solidified a starting role at right-back for Paris Saint Germain, he has proven that he has what it takes during his substitute appearances. In 46 games for the club, he has managed to find the back of the net 5 times and has assisted some of the best forwards in football in their scoring endeavours as well. His performances were impressive enough to earn him a call up to Roberto Martinez’ Belgium side for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Overview of nation
Belgium are currently enjoying their most successful period of international football in history. They have appeared in 13 world cup’s, their first being in 1930. At World Cup’s their best ever finish is 4th place which came in 1986 after bowing out to Argentina in the semi-final, who then went on to lift the trophy. They have appeared in just 5 European Championship’s, their first being in 1986. At European Championship’s their best finish was a runners-up medal in 1980 after being knocked out by an 88th minute goal from Horst Hrubesch of West Germany.
Since then, Belgium have still struggled for silverware but their results are a lot more promising. Belgium are currently unbeaten in a stretch of 21 games since a 2-0 defeat by Spain on the 2nd of September 2016 which followed a 3-1 loss to Wales on the 2nd of July. During this 21 game stretch, Belgium have managed to score 72 goals and concede just 17. 9 of these wins contributed to Belgium’s World Cup Qualifying campaign in Group H. During this campaign, Belgium finished top of their group with 9 wins and 1 draw from 10 matches, the highlights being 9-0 and 8-1 wins over Gibraltar and Estonia.
Their team consists of some of the world’s best including the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois
Performance of player in qualification
During Belgium’s 10 game qualification period, Thomas Meunier made 8 appearances for his national side. 8 very impressive appearances. Thomas played the full 90 minutes for Belgium’s first 3 fixtures, 3-0, 4-0, and 6-0 wins over Cyprus, Bosnia, and Gibraltar. In Belgium’s next game, Thomas managed to pick up a goal against Estonia during an 8-1 win. For the next two fixtures though, Meunier didn’t make the line-up as Martinez favoured a 3 at the back formation meaning Meunier lost his place in the side. His return came in Belgium’s 7th qualifying match, a 9-0 clubbing of Gibraltar in which he played the best game of his career. Thomas played the full 90 minutes and managed to pick up a hat-trick in the process. Not only did he get a hat-trick, he also managed to assist 4 of the other goals. 3 goals and 4 assists from 8 team goals!!
This performance led to him being called up for the remaining 3 matches in which he managed to pick up a goal against Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Thomas was selected for Roberto Martinez’ 23 man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, and it was well deserved!
Why he’s one to watch
Thomas Meunier is one to watch for Belgium at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. I think his performances in the qualifiers are enough to show why he should be one to watch at this year’s tournament. Outside of his playing, he has overcome a lot of pressure from supporters, once receiving death threats from PSG fans for liking a photo online from a Marseille page. He puts this all aside and plays the game he loves. He has told media on countless occasions that he does not care who he plays for, he wants to be playing regular first-team football, and wants to be playing at his best. On the 10th of April, he named Everton, Valencia, and Borussia Dortmund as three sides he would be open to joining in the guarantee of first team football.
It will be interesting to see how his world cup pans out and whether his stocks will rise!
Video of player/compilation
Meunier scores goals 2,7 and 8
Meunier assists goals 1, 3, 5 and 6
As you can see from this Football Manager screenshot, Thomas Meunier is a very well-rounded wing back. His most impressive stats are determination, work rate and teamwork which is a fantastic representation of Thomas as not only a footballer, but also a human being.
This isn’t the only ‘One to Watch’, we are releasing a one to watch article for every nation in the World Cup. An hour before each team kick off their first World Cup Group Stage game, we will release that nations one to watch. These can be viewed here – One to Watch for all Nations in World Cup 2018
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