Belgium enter this World Cup with confidence at an all time high, as this is possibly the best pool of players Belgium have had since the 1980’s.
Belgium’s Official Squad for the World Cup;
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid), Laurent Ciman (Standard Liege), Nicolas Lombaerts (Zenit St Petersburg), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Daniel Van Buyten (Bayern Munich), Anthony Vanden Borre (Anderlecht), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham).
Midfielders: Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele (both Tottenham), Steven Defour (Porto), Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg), Marouane Fellaini, Adnan Januzaj (both Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Kevin Mirallas (Everton), Divock Origi (Lille), Axel Witsel (Zenit St Petersburg).
Manager: Marc Wilmots
With a young side looking to impress, Belgium are rightfully named as the dark horses of the tournament. Belgium will look to their key players such Kompany, Courtois, Witsel and Hazard to inspire them to victory and while this may well prove to be a step to far for this side at the moment, they will be one of the favourites to lift the Euro Championships in France in two years time. Manager Wilmots has past experience of representing his nation at the World Cup, having been a player the last time Belgium qualified in 2002 and will hope to draw on that experience as only Daniel Van Buyten has previous International Tournament experience.
Adnan Janzuaj has now pledged his future to the Belgian National team and made his debut for the country in a 5-1 friendly victory over Luxembourg, as he replaced Eden Hazard at half time. Lukaku scored a hat-trick to take his tally for Belgium to 8. It is vital that he hits top form before the start of the tournament as injury has ruled Christian Benteke out of the squad.
I can see them reaching the semi-finals; much like unfancied Croatia did in 1998. I would love to see them win it (unless they are up against England), but would fully expect the usually power-houses to be in the final reckoning e.g. Spain, Brazil or Germany. They could face Germany as early as the last 16 but providing both teams finish top of their group they will avoid each other until the latter rounds. One thing counting against Belgium is they don’t have a victory over a top side, however there is always the first time for that to happen and the World Cup is no better place.
They have the potential to be in the final reckoning, but as far as winning the tournament – I feel it may be too early for this talented side.