World Cup 2018: The rise of Belgium
Every tournament has its favorites to win and now it is no different. The usual suspects are Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Spain and France.
These teams have everything – good defending, powerful attack and star players that can decide a match with one genius play.
Now I want you to pay attention to one team that is also capable of winning the most prestigious trophy in the history of football. This team broke the record for goals scored in the qualifications. That’s right – Belgium.
Let’s start with the goalkeeper
Thibaut Courtois established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the game nowadays. At the age of 26 he has won Premiership twice with Chelsea and he was best goalkeeper for the 2016-17 season.
He also won Spanish La Liga with Atletico Madrid in 2014 and lost the Champions league final same year. During his stay in Atletico he also clinched UEFA Europa League and the award for best goalkeeper in Spain.
The defensive core is formed by Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Thomas Meunier
Vertonghen and Alderweireld played alongside each other at Tottenham and at Ajax back in the days. They are key players for their club and helped Tottenham to become one of the best defending teams in Premiership.
Kompany is Manchester City's captain and one of the best central defenders in the world. His strength and bravery were a key factor for the record-breaking season of his club.
Thomas Meunier is the last piece of this quartet. Since he joined PSG in the summer of 2016, he has played nearly 70 games for the French team.
He made a name for himself and is wanted by teams like Liverpool and Chelsea. With four goals and five assists this season he can cause troubles for opponents’ defence.
The guys who give the final pass before the goal. Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne are the perfect pair for this job. Two great players who non-stop create opportunities for the strikers and also scoring goals .
The Man city man was involved in 33 goals this season – 12 goals and 21 assists, while Chelsea’s number 10 scored 17 and assisted for another 13.
They will be helped by Tottenham player Mousa Dembele, Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel who plays in China. Roberto Martinez will also use Yannick Carrasco, Nacer Chadli and Monaco’s young starlet Youri Tielemans.
The players who will be responsible for scoring goals are Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens
Both managed to score at least 20 goals in all competitions – Lukaku found the net 27 times while Mertens did it 22. Manchester United star is very strong and his height of 1.91m makes him very dangerous in the air.
Mertens on the other hand is not so tall – he is only 1.69m but his speed and instinct are something rarely seen in football.
The Belgians will play in the last game of the group phase, which is a big advantage for them and depending on the other results they can “choose” their path.
So if they are lucky enough not to have key players missing they can easily be considered as one of the favorites for winning the World Cup 2018.
All stats via transfermarkt