Axel Witsel’s Euro 2020 campaign for Belgium in jeopardy following injury

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel is expected to be sidelined for several months and “needs a miracle” to be fit for Euro 2020 after tearing his Achilles tendon in a Bundesligawin 3-0 over RB Leipzig. Witsel first arrived at Dortmund in the summer of 2018, having signed on a four-year deal from Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian, emerged as a key senior player within of the German club.

“Unfortunate news,” the club confirmed in a statement on social media. “Axel Witsel suffered a torn Achilles tendon during yesterday’s match and will be out for an extended period of time. We all wish Axel a speedy and successful recovery.” His injury means he will now miss a crucial second half of the 2020-21 campaign, including his Euro 2020 campaign.

“This is not a moment to be thinking about whether he’ll be missing the European Championship or not. Now it’s about taking the next step correctly and making sure that he knows we’re going to wait to the last second before we announce that squad,” Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said. Witsel has made more than 100 appearances for Belgium.

Witsel’s father also told the press that “a miracle is needed” for him to recover before the biggest European tournament scheduled to start on June 11. Meanwhile, Dortmund, who face Sevilla in the Champions League round of 16 next month, are currently sitting on the fourth spot of Bundesliga table, five points behind leaders Bayern Munich and three points behindsecond-placed RB Leipzig. 

Belgium became the first side to confirm their qualification for Euro 2020 after thrashing San Marino 9-0 in Brussels in 2019. Romelu Lukaku took his record international tally past 50 goals as Belgium opened up an unassailable 11-point lead over third-placed Cyprus. Their victory at the King Badouin Stadium matched their record winning margin of nine goals in 1994 and 2017 respectively.

In their Nations League campaign, Belgium secured a spot in the final four after thrashing Denmark 4-2. Youri Tielemans got the opener in the third minute, while Lukaku netted twice in the second half before Kevin De Bruyne scored in the last three minutes as Belgium won the group by five points. They were also hailed as FIFA’s top-ranked footballing nation in the world for the third consecutive year.