Belgium are at a disadvantage in the European Championship as they will not play any home games in the tournament, defender Thomas Vermaelen said on Tuesday.
Brussels had been one of the 13 original venues picked to host games for Euro 2020, which kicks off on Friday, but after numerous delays to a planned new Eurostadium, was removed from the list by UEFA in 2017.
It means that if the top team in the FIFA rankings are to go on and win a major trophy for the first time, all their matches will be on foreign soil – in contrast to other contenders like England, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.
Of the 24 teams at Euro 2020, nine get to play in front of home fans.
However, Belgium have a heavy travel burden in the opening round, playing their first game on Saturday in St Petersburg against Russia, then meeting Denmark in Copenhagen on June 17 before returning to St Petersburg to complete their Group B programme against Finland.
“It is certainly a disadvantage that we have to play away games and have to travel,” Vermaelen told a news conference.
“We would prefer to play home games. That would be an advantage, that you do not travel. The other countries we play against play home games. That is a shame for us but we have to accept the situation as it is.”
Belgium will leave for St Petersburg on the eve of their opening game and return back to their base at Tubize, some 25km south of Brussels, straight afterwards. After three days back home, they head to Copenhagen for their second group game and from there will travel straight onto St Petersburg.
Should they win their group, as they are fancied to do, Belgium then play their last 16 match in Seville but might prefer to finish runners-up, as that means a much shorter trip to Amsterdam.