World Cup 2014: Belgium preview - Kompany the rock; Hazard the star

Belgium National Football Team

Belgium are the hottest team in the world right now - Can they translate that into World Cup success?

The perception

The ultimate dark horses. Belgium are the 'Hansel' of world football - so hot right now. Their rise up the World Rankings and plethora of emerging talent have made Belgium one of the more fashionable teams at this summer's World Cup. They will be expected to top their group after much hype over their talented team.

The reality

The hype is justified. They have shot up the FIFA World Rankings and despite a pre-tournament blip, which saw them fall out of the top ten, they are still a very talented team.

They recently played very well against Sweden in an international friendly and will surely see themselves winning against South Korea and Algeria - with Russia preventing a sterner test.

They have also been dealt a relatively easy group. Have no illusions about Belgium's hopes for this tournament, they really think they can go all the way.


No doubt that their main strengths come to individual ability and an impressive spine. With Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Axel Witsel and Romelu Lukaku through the middle of the pitch they have worldpclass operators.

The team is also full of tricks and pace. One thing for sure, expect the unexpected when watching Belgium this summer.


For all of their exceptional talent they are not invincible. First of all there is the striker issue. If Lukaku gets injured, who plays up top? With Christian Benteke injured it would mean Kevin Mirallas, Dries Mertens or even Marouane Fellaini up top - not an envious position to be in at all.

Then there is the defence. Individually there is an abundance of talent but Thomas Vermaelen and Toby Alderweireld have not played much this season and they are set to field a back four made up entirely of centre backs. There is a reason after all Belgium are being dubbed dark horses and not genuine contenders.

Key Player

Such a difficult decision to make considering the players in this team, and of course Eden Hazard immediately springs to mind.

But the real lynchpin of this side is Manchester City star Kompany. The centre back is the rock of a team that sometimes needs bringing back down to earth.

Meanwhile, Courtois behind him will also be key.

One to Watch

It is hard not to look beyond Manchester United's future star Adnan Januzaj, He only recently decided to take up Belgium as his full footballing nationality after an excellent breakout campaign at Old Trafford.

He is likely to be unleashed as a sub by Marc Wilmots - and what a sub he could be.

Also, Chelsea fans, feast your eyes on what you are missing from Kevin De Bruyne - a key man for The Red Devils.


Good, but not yet good enough in my opinion. They are just not quite where they need to be to make it all the way and looking at the run of things a quarter-final exit seems likely. The European Championships in 2016 might be their time to truly shine.

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