World Cup: Will 2018 be Belgium’s Year?

January 25, 2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ All,Football,World Cup 2018

The 2018 World Cup in Russia is fast approaching and for one nation, it probably can’t come fast enough.

Belgium will be hoping to eradicate the memories of their disappointing exit at the hand of Wales in Euro 2016 by putting in a much better showing in Russia.

Belgium World Cup 2018 fans

There is an expectation in the country that this current crop of players has more than enough talent to reach at least the last four – but winning it is not an unrealistic prospect.

2018 World Cup Qualification

Qualification was a walk in the park for the Red Devils as they went unbeaten through their ten matches, topping Group H. It was a group containing teams of mixed ability with the likes of Gibraltar, Cyrus and Estonia not offering any serious opposition, but Greece and Bosnia & Herzegovina were more testing.

Victory in the opening game against Cyrus was fairly straightforward as a brace from Roman Lukaku helped them to a 3-0 win. It set the tone for the rest of qualification as impressive wins over Greece in Piraeus and a scintillating 4-3 win away in Bosnia put them in the driving seat. They also shredded Estonia 8-1 and Gibraltar 9-0 at home showing their scoring potential.

The only blemish was a 1-1 draw at home to a stubborn Greece side in March which prevented the 100% record. They finished top with a big nine-point gap between them and second-placed Greece to head to Russia full of confidence.

They were drawn in a relatively easy group containing England, Tunisia and Panama. Williamhill have them down as one of the favourites to win the competition, with odds of 12/1 reflective of this. They are still behind Germany 9/2, Brazil 5/1 and Spain 7/1 but if they play to their potential then this could be an exciting competition for both fans of Belgium and the neutrals.

By Magharebia [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Belgium Star Players

It is hard to whittle a talented squad down to just a few key individuals but Chelsea star Eden Hazard is the top name on the roster with most commentators agreeing that he is one of the most outstanding players in world football.

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Eden Hazard by Aleksandr Osipov (CC BY-SA 2.0)

He is ably backed up by Napoli’s creative wide man Dries Mertens who has found a scoring touch in Serie A this season that he hasn’t had in the past grabbing himself 11 goals and 15 assists.

Other key players include Roman Lukaku who top scored during the qualifiers with 11 goals. The big striker is a focal point for the national side’s attack and will be one of the players that will be in with a shout of finishing with the golden boot in Russia.

Radja Nainggolan is always a machine in the midfield and his energy and power will be an important factor in any Belgium success. He has put in some impressive performances for Roma this season and will be hoping to take this form into the tournament.

Another player to impress during the qualifiers was Thomas Meunier who grabbed an impressive five goals from right back. The PSG defender has attracted interest from Chelsea but is seen as a key asset for the French champions and his marauding runs will give his side a good outlet on the right.

The Coach

Roberto Martinez was not everyone’s cup of tea when he was appointed to the position of head coach of the Belgian national side mainly due to his indifferent showing at Everton but he does play an expansive style that will make Belgium one of the more attractive footballing sides at the World Cup 2018.