Belgium World Cup Preview


Source: Euro News

The FIFA World Cup is about to start from 14th June and all the 32 nations have begun their preparations for the biggest competition in world sport and football. More than a billion fans from all over the world will be cheering for their favourite sides who will go head-to-head for the ultimate prize in Russia. All fans will be supporting the top sides like Germany, France, England, Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, Portugal, Spain and many others. Fans will also be eager to see quite a few underdog teams like Iceland, Croatia, Poland, Sweden who can seriously pack a punch and hurt the giant teams. Perfect examples being Iceland, who knocked out England in the Euro 2016 and Sweden who defeated an overconfident Italy side to clinch a World Cup berth.

All the 32 teams have serious quality and ability but, one of the most exciting and unpredictable team is Belgium. The Belgium national side have been placed in group G along with England, Tunisia and Panama. The group is a relatively easy one and Roberto Martinez would hope for a smooth qualification to the knock-out stages, with only England being a competitive threat. Belgium have improved their squad very well and the manager has selected a perfectly balanced side consisting of Experience, youth and quality. Belgium have never won a World Cup in their history starting from 1904. They have secured a 4th placed finish, which is their highest so far, attained during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. They were knocked-out in the quarter-finals in the previous edition of the competition in 2014 in Brazil by Argentina.

Captained by Eden Hazard, Belgium will be looking to give their all in the World Cup and show the world their quality. They aren’t favourites to win, but, it would be massive achievement if they reached the semi-finals. As mentioned above, Belgium have a great squad dept, full of quality players. Their oldest player is Vincent Kompany, aged 32 and the youngest is midfielder Youri Tielemans, aged 21. Jan Vertonghen is the most capped player with 97 international caps with the national team and Koen Casteels, goalkeeper, has not made his debut with the national side. Romelu Lukaku is the highest and record goal scorer with 30 goals.

The Belgium squad is dominated mainly by players from the Premier League with 15 players out of the 23 being from the English Premier League. They have one of the best goalkeepers in their side, Thibaut Courtois being their number 1 and have Liverpool goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet as a back-up. Martinez has also called up Koen Casteels as the 3rd choice keeper. Belgium have quality players in all positions, defence being no exception. Premier League trio Vincent Kompany and Spurs duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen make up the three-man central defence. They have a decent back-up to them, with the likes of Thomas Meunier, Barcelona centre back Thomas Vermaelen, Christian Kabasele and Jordan Lukaku as back-up options.

Source: Goal.com

Kevin De Bruyne and Mousa Dembele will ideally control the central midfield of the side by providing strength and creativity in the middle. Belgium have a rather defensive back-up to their midfield with the likes of Marouane Fellaini, Nacer Chadli and Leander Dendoncker as the holding midfielders. They also have the likes of Youri Tielemans, Axel Witsel, Yannick Carrasco and Adnan Januzaj as the wide midfield options.

Attack is the position where Belgium stand out the most. They have one of the best strike forces in the competition with the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens ready to lead the attack. They also have a formidable attacking back-up with Michy Batshuayi, Thorgan Hazard.

Potential Starting XI:

Belgium are famously known to adopt the orthodox 3-4-2-1 formation traditionally and manager Roberto Martinez seems to favour the formation too. We can expect Belgium to play in that formation with Courtois in goal, Kompany, Alderweireld and Vertonghen making the three central defenders. Meunier and Carrasco operating on the wide flanks of midfield to make runs and supplying crosses, making them auxiliary wing-backs and wide men. De Bruyne and Dembele controlling the central midfield. Mertens and Hazard generally play as the two attacking midfielders, who join the attack, with Lukaku as the sole striker, acting as a target man.

Key Players:

         Thibaut Courtois
The Chelsea goalkeeper is regarded as one of the best in the world and we would see some fantastic saves through out the tournament. He should also be in contention for the golden glove.

         Kevin De Bruyne.
The Manchester City talisman played a very big role in the title winning season and also was included in the Team of the Year. He assisted majority of Manchester City’s goals this season and also topped the assists charts in the league, with 16 assists and 8 goals.

         Eden Hazard.
The captain will be under the most pressure as he will have to lead from the front. Hazard hasn’t had that great a season with Chelsea as he was quite inconsistent. There are also rumours of him moving to Real Madrid. The World Cup will be a very interesting one for him as he is one of the main men.

         Romelu Lukaku.
The Manchester United striker will be one of the most important players on the pitch for Belgium as he will be tasked with scoring the goals. Lukaku has scored 16 goals in the Premier League this season and being Belgium’s all-time leading goal scorer, he will definitely be a very important player. Candidate for the golden boot.

Source: ESPN

        Vincent Kompany.
He is the most experienced and eldest player in the squad. His experience will be vital for the whole team and he should also guide under pressure captain Hazard. He is the key motivational factor in the side.

Watch Out For:

1.       Michy Batshuayi
After joining Dortmund on loan from Chelsea in January, Batshuayi has scored 7 goals in 10 games for the German side and has been a told wildcard for them. He is definitely a one to watch.

2.       Dries Mertens.
Arguably the main man for Napoli and Sarri this season. Don’t go on his short height and age of 31. Mertens is still lightning fast and an excellent dribbler he has scored 18 goals for the Italian side and assisted 6.

Final Prediction:
Semi-Finals.

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