By Spencer Impellizzeri @Spence_I on May 14, 2014
Belgium qualified for the the 2014 World Cup after failing to qualify for the last two and expectations are high for the Red Devils. Led by the new golden generation, a collection of talent that is arguably the best in Belgium's history, Belgium has established themselves as one of the top squads in the world. Currently No. 12 in the FIFA World Rankings, Belgium has a legitimate shot at winning this year's World Cup.
Belgium has just two players over the age of 30 on their 24-man provisional squad, with many of the key roles being played by players in their early-to-mid 20s. 11 of those players currently play in the EPL, while others are scattered throughout Europe's top leagues. The team's back line features three EPL players; Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermalen, and the attack is led by two budding stars, Eden Hazard and Romelo Lukaku.
Having talented players in good form makes a team that much more dangerous. Belgium has the luxury of this. Eden Hazard is set to lead the team's attack, and he is coming off the best season of his career, where he was named Chelsea's Player of the Year, the PFA's Young Player of the Year and was runner-up for the Player of the Year in the EPL for 2013-14. Hazard is just one of many in good form, as Romelo Lukaku scored 15 goals last campaign.
Marc Wilmots has been the manager of Belgium since 2012, and he has brought solid leadership presence to the team. With just one player on the team having previous World Cup experience, Wilmot's experience during his own career will be essential. Wilmot was on four World Cup teams for Belgium during his playing days and is Belgium's all-time leading scorer in World Cup play. His experience will help the transition for Belgium's young players.
Belgium went undefeated in qualifying, picking up 26 out of a maximum 30 points. What makes that performance even more impressive is that Belgium did so in a group containing two teams coming off World Cup berths, Croatia and Serbia. If the dominance is any indication of World Cup success, Belgium looks to be a sleeper team in the tournament
Belgium has arguably the best draw in the World Cup. Playing in the weakest group, Belgium is seen as a lock to advance. Russia is a formidable opponent, but Algeria isn't a very dangerous team as they don't attack much and the Korea Republic currently ranks just 55. With potentially one of the easiest groups in the World Cup, Belgium's chances to win increase substantially.
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