Belgium: From Minnows to Rising Stars
In the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea/Japan, Belgium enjoyed accomplishing a Round of 16 finishes. Since then, they haven’t been able to play in a major tournament, nonetheless participate in a play-off leading up to one. Now, the story lines are beginning to shift in their favor.
Leading their qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup with 19 points, just three points ahead of second placed Croatia with a game in that nation beckoning. They earned these points by winnings six and drawing one of their seven games against their opponents, scoring 13 times and only allowing a couple of goals into their own net.
This success is arriving right on time since they finally have a squad full of pure and exciting talent. Some of the players are very well known: Vincent Kompany (captain), Jan Vertonghen, Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Marouane Fellaini and Christian Benteke. All of these players belong to teams in the Premier League with Courtois playing on loan in Spain at Atletico Madrid. Every position is virtually filled by a starting player on a more than decent club in England.
Their abilities on and off the ball, decision-making and unison for their nation has allowed many fans and themselves to enjoy this recent success. By continuing this, they can guarantee a spot in the group stage by winning this qualifying group and may even go far within the tournament itself.
Ironically, Belgium bowed out after the Round of 16 against the eventual 202 tournament winners, Brazil. Next year’s edition will be played in Brazil. If the two teams were to face off, the hosts would be expected to win but they would certainly have their hands full. This team is expected to cause a bunch of problems for their opponents not only because they are more than capable of doing so, but the fact that it has been 14 years since they last appeared in a major world soccer competition. The nation is truly hungry for international success.
If Belgium is ever going to succeed at the highest level, it should be within the next couple of years since they arguably have their best squad ever.