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FIFA World Cup 2018 team profile: Belgium look to fulfil potential

Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ will look to avoid a repeat of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championships in the FIFA World Cup 2018.

football Updated: Jun 12, 2018 16:42 IST
Ankit Kumar Singh
Ankit Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ will look to avoid a repeat of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championships in the FIFA World Cup 2018.
Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ will look to avoid a repeat of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championships in the FIFA World Cup 2018. (REUTERS)

Head coach: Roberto Martinez

FIFA World Cup History: Qualified 12 times; best – 4th place (1986)

Qualifying route: Won nine out of 10 matches to top European qualifying Group H.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels, Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet; Defenders: Toby Alderweireld, Dedryck Boyata, Vincent Kompany, Thomas Meunier, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen; Midfielders:Yannick Carrasco, Kevin de Bruyne, Mousa Dembele, Leander Dendoncker, Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard, Thorgan Hazard, Adnan Januzaj, Dries Mertens, Youri Tielemans, Axel Witsel; Forwards: Michy Batshuayi, Nacer Chadli, Romelu Lukaku.

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Unbeaten in qualifying, the Belgium national football team appears one of the most fancied sides on paper going into the World Cup. The team was outstanding in its qualifying campaign scoring 43 goals and conceding only 11.

Dubbed Belgium’s ‘golden generation’, the current set of players, though, would be under pressure to live up to their high-profile status after not being able to go past the quarterfinal stage in both 2014 World Cup and 2016 Euro Cup.

Coach Martinez’s decision to keep Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan out of the squad has raised a few eyebrows, but the Red Devils have a well-balanced side.

In Kevin De Bruyne, they have one of the best playmakers while captain Eden Hazard is coming from his match-winning performance for Chelsea in last month’s FA Cup final.

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There are doubts over the fitness of ace defender Vincent Kompany and striker Michy Batshuayi, but the team has plenty of resources to cover up for any loss.

Three players to watch out for

Eden Hazard: Though Hazard had a disappointing outing with Chelsea in the Premier League, he regained his touch old towards the end of the campaign and was at his lethal best during the final of the FA Cup. He possesses a great ability to commit defenders, force mistakes and generate opportunities for himself.

Kevin De Bruyne: De Bruyne is in the form of his life having played a stellar role in Manchester City’s Premier League victory this season. With 16 assists, he topped the chart for the most number of assists in England. He will be a key to Belgium’s hope as he has the finesse to make any defence look clueless.

Romelu Lukaku: Lukaku is the most prolific Belgian goalscorer at international level with a total of 36 goals. He was in a red-hot form during the team’s qualifying campaign netting home 11 times. His pace and finishing is going to be vital for the side.