With many pegging Belgium as the “dark horses” of the 2014 World Cup, Romelu Lukaku believes that his side have a great opportunity to achieve something special this summer.
In the country’s first major tournament since 2002, Belgium arrive in Brazil boasting a richly-talented squad full of young and promising players, with Lukaku one of several expected to shine over the coming weeks.
‘It’s a good opportunity for us,’ he said. ‘It’s been 12 years since we’ve played a big tournament so now we’re here and hopefully we can show the people we can play good football.’
After a serious Achilles injury to Christian Benteke ruled the Aston Villa striker out for the summer, Lukaku is set to lead the line for Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’, as the team look to make up for previous years lost in the international wilderness.
For the 21-year-old, the tournament could also prove an important one towards deciding his club future, with his Chelsea career currently in limbo after consecutive campaigns spent out on loan at West Bromwich Albion and Everton, respectively.
Having helped guide the latter to a fifth-place Premier League finish last season with 15 goals in 31 games, the former Anderlecht prodigy has apparently grown frustrated with the lack of opportunities at his parent club and, with the imminent arrival of Atletico Madrid star Diego Costa this summer, that predicament seems unlikely to change anytime soon.
With numerous clubs reportedly courting Lukaku, including Atletico themselves, this looks to be a crucial few weeks for the youngster, as he goes out to prove his worth on the world’s biggest stage.
Under manager Marc Wilmots, who in fact captained the last World Cup squad in 2002, Belgium’s first test will come on Tuesday in the form of Algeria, with further games in Group H against Russia and South Korea standing in their way of the knockout stages.
Les Diables Rouges will be confident of progressing to the last 16, but their odds of making it any further depend largely on whether they have at their disposal a fully firing Lukaku, who could be set to add to his price tag in Brazil should he string together a series of impressive displays.