By November 17, 2012 4 Comments Read More →

Belgium’s Golden Generation: Do they have a shot at World Cup 2014?


Belgium National Team (

Much has been made about Belgium’s new crop of stars that marks the country’s best footballing talent that it’s ever produced. Some of the players that will feature for Belgium in 2014 include Marouane Fellaini, Axel Witsel, Eden Hazard, Moussa Dembele, Romelu Lukaku, and Vincent Kompany. Fellaini, Hazard, and Kompany have been three of the best players in Europe’s toughest league- the Premier League and will be looking to capitalize on that high level experience and guide Belgium far into the tournament in Brazil.

Belgium have been touted as potential dark-horse favorites to progress deep into the tournament, but only to lose to one of the bigger European or South American sides such as Germany, Spain, Brazil, or Argentina. Belgium has a great mix of defensive talent, midfield steel, and attacking force that make the side incredibly well-balanced. There’s no big holes in the team like the Netherlands have in defense, or Portugal has at the striker position, or Spain’s refusal to implement any other style than what they are used to. Belgium really has no hole in their squad and that squad balance, along with their great depth, will make them a very difficult team to beat especially when this current pool of players have another year and a half to mature and progress.

Now, we’ll take a look at how Belgium will likely line up in the 2014 World Cup. They’ll likely employ a 4-3-3 as it’s the formation they have been playing recently and one that maximizes the abilities of their players. In goal, Thibaut Courtois, who is owned by Chelsea but on loan at Atletico Madrid where he has been fantastic and a huge part of their current 2nd place standing in the La Liga table, will win a hotly contested battle over Simon Mignolet and Jean-Francois Gillet.

At the back, Vincent Kompany has asserted himself as one of the best center backs in the world and will be the first name on the team sheet for coach Marc Wilmots. Thomas Vermaelen will play at either left back or center back with Jan Vertonghen occupying the other position. Toby Alderweireld is normally a center back but can be deployed at right back and will play that position for the Diables Rouges. Belgium also has the likes of veteran Daniel van Buyten and Zenit star Nicolas Lombaerts on the bench who will be invaluable towards the middle of the tournament when fatigue begins to set in for the starters.

In the midfield, you will see Everton superstar Marouane Fellaini, Tottenham standout Moussa Dembele, and Zenit’s new signing Axel Witsel. Dembele will provide the attacking force from the midfield as will Fellaini, whose career has been revolutionized since being fielded in a more attacking role by Everton coach David Moyes. Fellaini is indomitable in the air with the combination of his size and strength. Witsel is an aggressive midfielder who harries opponents all over the pitch. He’s able to strike from distance and excels in playing long balls over the top to his forwards. Dembele’s elusiveness and creativity combined with the midfield strength from the two afro-clad midfielders, Fellaini and Witsel, will go a long way in winning the midfield battle, which, for international soccer, is incredibly important. Midfield reinforcements include Radja Nainggolan, Steven Defour, Timmy Simons, and Kevin De Bruyne who each offer something a little different, allowing the Belgium coach to tinker, if he sees fit.

In attack, Belgium will field Chelsea starlet Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and Dries Mertens. We all know how good Hazard is as his performances for Lille and now Chelsea have earned plaudits from around the world and while he is now fielded as more of an attacking midfielder, he will reprise his role as left winger for the national team. His incisive dribbling and affinity for taking on long shots are a nightmarish sight for defenders. Romelu Lukaku has been mentioned as Didier Drogba’s successor for years now as the man-child Lukaku has the mix of strength, skill in the air, and finishing that made the Ivorian famous. Mertens is likely the member of the starting XI that people will be the most unfamiliar with but he is a very well kept secret. He has much in common with Hazard but instead of peppering the opposing goalie every chance he gets, he wants to send in crosses or link up in order to create chances for his teammates. Everton star Kevin Mirallas, Jelle Vossen, and Igor De Camargo will provide backup for Belgium’s attackers.

This squad has the superstar talent required to win a World Cup. They have one of the best defensive contingents in the world with Kompany, Vermaelen, and Vertonghen alongside an imposing albeit creative midfield that boasts the likes of Fellaini, Witsel, and Dembele. Eden Hazard is a star and any team would welcome him, while Lukaku and Mertens will benefit greatly from the extra year and a half of development they will undergo before the tournament kicks of in 2014. If you’re looking for a underdog to support that may actually have a chance of making some waves, look no further than Belgium as the Red Devils will be a difficult side to break down in Brazil.

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4 Comments on "Belgium’s Golden Generation: Do they have a shot at World Cup 2014?"

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  1. David Hendrick David Hendrick says:

    Nice piece. Only part I disagree with is that I don't think Lukaku will be the starting striker. Benteke's form for club and country has been a lot more impressive this season and last and while Lukaku may have more raw talent, Benteke is the superior player right now.

    • Jason Voss [email protecte says:

      Thanks for commenting David. You're right, Benteke has been better for Aston Villa than Lukaku has been for West Brom. I was trying to look ahead a little too much because I feel that with another year and a half of development, Lukaku will flourish and because he provides a different dimension with his ridiculous strength, he could start. However, Belgium really can't go wrong as Benteke has the height to be deadly in the air, Mirallas has the speed if they want to go all out pace with Hazard and Mertens, and Lukaku probably has the most upside but needs time to develop. Until Lukaku starts seeing significant time for West Brom, and it could be a while because of how well Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie are playing, both Benteke and Mirallas should be ahead of him on the depth chart.

      • David Hendrick David Hendrick says:

        The problem Lukaku might have is that West Brom can't afford to keep him and besides that it's unlikely Chelsea would sell him. If Chelsea go and buy Falcao or Higuain in January or next summer, that would probably leave Lukaku stuck on the bench for 13/14 which will make it near impossible to get the starting role if Benteke is starting and scoring..

  2. Potomac89 says:

    dont forget about nacer chadli. he gets more time then several of those guys you named in the midfield

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