Belgium have clinched their qualification to the World Cup in Brazil next summer after beating Croatia 2-1 thanks to a brace by Romelu Lukaku. This is Belgium’s first qualification to a major international tournament since 2002. This generation of players is probably the most talented Belgium has ever had, and they will be expected to do more than just participate in Brazil.The Red Devils have a squad filled with talented players who all play for top European clubs.
Thibault Courtois , owned by Chelsea but on loan at Atletico Madrid, is one of the best young goalkeepers in the world. His backup,Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, is making Liverpool fans forget Pepe Reina. In central defense, Vincent Kompany is Manchester City‘s captain and one of the best center backs in the world. Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen is one of the best center backs in the Premier League, and Thomas Vermalaen plays for Arsenal. Daniel Van Buyten can be a reliable option as well. At right back,Toby Alderweireld is having a tough start of the season with Atletico Madrid, but he remains a solid player. The left back position is where Belgium might be the weakest. Sebastien Pocognoli, Nicolas Lombaerts and Jelle Van Damme are all decent players but are not quite at their teammates’ level. Their average performances have sometimes forced Marc Wilmots to push Vertonghen, a center back, to the left of the defense.
In midfield, Steven Defour and Axel Witsel, who respectively play for Porto and Zenit St Petersburg, form a very solid pair of central midfielders in front of the defense pushing Moussa Dembele from Tottenham on the bench. The veteran Timmy Simmons (36 -years-old) is also a good option coming off the bench. On the wings, Eden Hazard (left) and Kevin De Bruyne (right) seem to be ahead of Nacer Chadli (left), Kevin Mirallas (right) and Dries Mertens (left) in Wilmots’ mind.
Up front, Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke are two of the best strikers of the Premier League. Lukaku is making Jose Mourinho regret sending him on loan at Everton. He has scored more goals than all of Chelsea’s strikers combined. Benteke scored four goals in the first five Premier League games for Aston Villa before being stopped by a groin injury.Unfortunately,they cannot start together in Wilmots’ 4-2-3-1.
Belgium have certainly got one of the most talented squads in international soccer even though they are still an unproven team in major international tournaments. If they arrive in Brazil in top form and without any major injury, they could be a difficult team to beat. Their biggest weakness will be their lack of experience. Apart from Daniel Van Buyten and Timmy Simmons, no other player on the squad has ever played in a major international competition. That could be a decisive factor next year in Brazil.