Chocolates, Waffles, European Parliament, Fictional detectives and many more things which Belgium is famous for, but not traditionally a strong National Football Team. Denied a place in World Cup since 2006 they have immensely transformed into a golden generation seemingly capable of challenging the best. Nick named Les Diables Rouges(Red Devils), Belgium National Team looks very promising compromising burgeoning young talents viz. Eden Hazard , Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois, Adnan Januzai who have caught the eye of international community.
They are tipped to be the fifth favorite among the bookmakers after the likes of reigning champion Spain, host Brazil, their neighbor Argentina and very spirited Germany but ahead of the likes of footballing power houses Holland, France, Italy, Portugal and England. Belgium is often referred as the dark horse because of its resolute performances in recent times and the highly rated individual talents at its disposal. The Belgians will be expected to top Group H, but that is no certainty. They will face South Korea, Russia and Algeria in the group stages, all of which are tricky ties.
Here is a look at the Belgium 2014 World Cup Squad.
Belgium 2014 World Cup Squad: Team Preview
Best Finish: Fourth Place(1986)
Worst Finish: Round 1, 15th Position(1934)
Current FIFA Ranking: 12
Road to the Finals (Qualification Journey )
Belgium ended a 12-year absence from major tournaments with an impressive qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, their surge up the FIFA rankings earning them seeded status for the finals draw. They qualified topping Group A ahead of the likes of Croatia, Serbia and Scotland after an almost faultless campaign. The Belgians only dropped points in an early draw against Croatia and a second stalemate in their final outing, when their finals place was already assured.
Strengths: There is a reason why bookmakers have ranked the team fifth favorites to win the 2014 World Cup. Thibaut Cortouis of Atletico Madrid is considered by many as one of, if not the best young goalkeeper in the world. At the back, they boast the captains of Arsenal and Manchester City, Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany. Also among the centre-back artillery is Bayern Munich’s Daniel Van Buyten, while Jan Vertonghen—easily one of Tottenham’s best players last season—has been filling in at left-back. On the left wing is Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, undoubtedly Belgium’s X-Factor and the man most feared. When on the ball, he is able to walk through any defense and any Premier League defender will be quick to tell you of the young Belgian’s quality.
Weakness: Belgium have one of the strongest squads at the 2014 World Cup and it is quite tough to pin point any weaknesses in the current Belgian Squad. The only thing that can be pointed out is that the team lacks experience at the big stage. Belgium haven’t played in a FIFA World Cup since 2006 and that is one area where Belgium lacks behind other teams like Spain, Brazil and Germany.
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Squad: This is the expected Belgium 2014 World Cup Squad that will be announced by Wilmots.
Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Hoffenheim), Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid), Guillaume Gillet (Anderlecht), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Nicolas Lombaerts (Zenit St Petersburg), Sebastien Pocognoli (Hannover 96), Daniel Van Buyten (Bayern Munich), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Nacer Chadli (Tottenham Hotspur), Steven Defour (Porto), Moussa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Timmy Simons (Club Bruges), Axel Witsel (Zenit St Petersburg), Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United), Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg)
Strikers: Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Kevin Mirallas (Everton)
Expected Starting X1:
Toby Alderweireld-Vincent Kompany*-Daniel Van Buyten-Jan Vertonghen
Marouane Fellaini-Axel Witsel-Moussa Dembele
Kevin Mirallas-Romelu Lukaku-Eden Hazard
Key Player: Eden Hazard
Belgium’s chances of living up to their tag as the dark horses of the World Cup lie in large part at the lightning-fast feet of Eden Hazard. It is his recent performances with Chelsea that have impressed one and all and has drawn comparisons with the giants of the game such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The 23-year-old has struggled to reproduce for his country the kind of displays for Chelsea that have made him one of Europe’s hottest talents and this year’s World Cup might just be the best platform for him.
This was a preview of the Belgium 2014 World Cup Squad. Belgium currently have an ideal blend of youth and experience in their squad, and manager Marc Wilmots provides stability. It remains interesting to see how far this team makes it at the FIFA World Cup 2014. We believe if they play to their strengths, this World Cup might turn out to be the best ever result for them.
What do you think of Belgium’s chances at the 2014 World Cup. Let us know in the comments section below.