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Soccer World Cup

2014 World Cup: Projecting The Belgium National Team Starting XI, March Edition

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2014 World Cup: Projecting the Belgium National Team Starting XI

Belgium
David Richard - USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is just over three months away and all 32 competing national teams are preparing with friendlies before the big event to ensure they are adequately prepared for the event. For the Belgium National Team, that means a home match against the Ivory Coast on March 5.

After securing their spot in Brazil by topping Group A with 26 points, the Red Devils are sure to be one of the dark horses entering the tournament. Going through qualification without a single loss, Belgium showed the world it means business. Their last friendly against Japan didn't quite go as planned as the Samurai Blue toppled the Red Devils by a 3-2 margin.

The upcoming friendly against the Ivory Coast is sure to be a good test for the relatively young Belgian squad. With some normally automatics in the starting XI not performing well or recovering from injuries, it leaves the Red Devils with a somewhat thin squad. Thomas Vermaelen hasn’t featured much for Arsenal when he’s been healthy and it seems like his injury problems just keep getting worse. Steven Defour has battled injuries this season as well and hasn't been able to contribute much to FC Porto’s season. Other players such as Moussa Dembélé, Kevin De Bruyne, Marouane Fellaini, Kevin Mirallas and Nacer Chadli simply haven’t performed up to their potential for their respective clubs recently, so their exclusion from the squad is warranted.

Now that the list of players not making the projected starting XI has been laid out, let’s take a look at how Marc Wilmots would line up the Red Devils if the first World Cup match was today.

Zachary Holden is a Soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter (@Zachary_Holden), "Like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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GK: Thibaut Courtois

Courtois
Scott Heavey - Getty Images Sport

Courtois is an automatic as goalkeeper for the Red Devils. His performances over the past few years at Atletico Madrid have showcased his talent as the best young goalie in the world and as long as he's healthy, his spot in the starting XI isn't in jeopardy.

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RB: Anthony Vanden Borre

Borre
Harry Engels - Getty Images Sport

Lacking options outside of the center-back position, Vanden Borre sneaks into the starting slot at RB. His performances for Anderlecht have been good enough to call for his inclusion in the latest squad naming and a start at right-back is deserved.

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CB: Toby Alderweireld

Toby
David Richard - USA TODAY Sports

A direct competitor to Vaden Borre at right-back, Alderweireld slots in at center-back for this lineup. Part of a strong Atletico Madrid back four, the young Belgian has earned his spot as a starter. Not to mention his comfort with having Courtois behind him at the club level too makes it a bit easier for him.

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CB: Vincent Kompany

Kompany
David Richard - USA TODAY Sports

The captain and true leader of the Red Devils is another one of the automatics in this starting XI. As long as Kompany is healthy, he's starting for Manchester City and putting in amazing performances week-after-week. It's safe to say his position is safe in defense for the national team too.

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LB: Jan Vertonghen

Jan
David Richard - USA TODAY Sports

Naturally a center-back, Vertonghen can easily slot into the left-back position too. With the lack of options at this position in the squad, Vertonghen's pace allows him to adequately play out wide and as long as Vermaelen is hurt and not playing at Arsenal, his spot is safe.

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RM: Dries Mertens

Mertens
Guiseppe Bellini - Getty Images Sport

A regular for Napoli and a game-changer, Mertens has earned his spot in the starting XI, especially with competing wingers Chadli and Mirallas underperforming in the English Premier League.

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CM: Radja Nainggolan

Radja
Claudio Villa - Getty Images Sport

His move to AS Roma was a bit strange in the winter transfer window, but it's paid off for Nainggolan and Roma so far. Still relatively young at just 25, he's emerging as a true contender for a central midfield position that is always highly contested in this squad.

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CM: Axel Witsel

Witsel
David Rogers - Getty Images Sport

While the Russian Premier League isn't a place to showcase your talents if you're a young, promising player, Witsel has still impressed throughout the season. His dominance and creativity in midfield make him a dangerous player that can take the Red Devils far.

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LM: Eden Hazard

Hazard
Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

Another lock in the starting XI as long as he's healthy, Hazard is nothing short of brilliant. His talents are showcased weekly for Chelsea and there isn't any indication that he'll slow down anytime soon.

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ST: Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku
David Richard - USA TODAY Sports

After a dry spell in the Premier League, Lukaku is back at it. The young striker is easily one of the brightest talents in the world and his inclusion is no surprise.

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ST: Christian Benteke

Benteke
Christopher Lee - Getty Images Sport

Fresh off a brace against Norwich City in the league, Benteke is showing glimpses of his brilliance again. Paring him with Lukaku up top gives the Red Devils a dangerous strike force.

Check back in next month on April 1 for the next projected Belgium starting XI as they prepare for the World Cup in Brazil.