World Cup Team Profile - Belgium
Coach: Marc Wilmots
Captain: Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
Full Belgium Roster
The Road to Rio: If you weren’t paying attention to Belgium during qualification, you missed one of the most dominant performances by any team that is making the trip to Brazil. They won their group by a wider margin than any other UEFA qualifier, going unbeaten in 10 games and surrendering a ridiculous four goals.
The margin of victory was aided by the fact that the other five teams in Group A lost three games apiece and by the fact that the Belgians were a perfect 5-0 on the road. Their offence was widespread, with six players registering multiple goals. Wolfsburg winger Kevin de Bruyne led the way with four.
The results were enough to put the Belgians into the first seeding pot for the World Cup draw and the odds stayed in their favour, keeping them out of one of several Groups of Death.
Last World Cup appearance: Korea/Japan 2002 (Round of 16)
First World Cup appearance: Uruguay 1930 (Group Stage)
Previous World Cup appearances: 11
Best World Cup finish: Fourth Place (Mexico 1986)
With a talented squad and a favourable draw, there are lots of reasons people are picking Belgium as a dark horse team to make a deep run at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard is capable of scoring and creating goals from anywhere in the offensive third and could put on either a passing or finishing display depending on the flow of the game.
Forward Romelu Lukaku is a big and strong marauding presence on the field and will be very difficult for any defence to handle, especially if he finds his form in the tournament.
The Chelsea man, who was sent on loan to Everton during the last Premier League season, banged home 16 league goals and will have to produce for his side to have success beyond simply getting out of their group.
Defender Vincent Kompany, who captained his club team Manchester City to the English title this past season, is a strong anchor in the middle of their defence and can mark even the best offensive players in the world.
Behind Kompany and his backline will be goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who has spent the past three seasons on loan in La Liga, including being named the league’s best keeper in 2013.
Kevin Mirallas, who also does his work for Everton, will be another player counted on to provide scoring for the Belgian side.
Manager Marc Wilmots will not have Christian Benteke at his disposal, he would have been not only an impact player but a top man heading to Brazil.
Belgium should be able to navigate their way into the knockout stage and will even have the chance to set their feet in the opener against Algeria. After that, they will need to rely on skill and hope it can overcome their lack of experience.