World Cup 2018: 5 Belgium players to look out for
In a week's time, the 2018 World Cup will kick off. The squads of each country were finalized on 4th June. Belgium has been drawn into a relatively manageable and straightforward group. Together with European counterparts, England, the two countries are expected to advance into the next stage of the competition.
Roberto Martinez chose to drop Christian Benteke from the final 23-man squad. The striker was a surprise omission alongside Radja Nainggolan. The Roma midfielder immediately announced his international retirement after finding out that he was not included in the squad. Even without some of the senior players, Martinez's side continues to look pretty strong.
Between the posts, there is Thibaut Courtois. In the midfield, there is the creative mastermind, Kevin De Bruyne. Leading the line, there is Romelu Lukaku. There is plenty of talent in this Belgium squad which may make it far in Russia this summer. Here is a look at five players to look out for during the competition.
#5 Thibaut Courtois
The Chelsea man is undisputedly Belgium's first choice goalkeeper. Since making his debut in 2011, Courtois has managed 57 international appearances. Most recently, he kept a clean sheet during an international friendly against Egypt. In his seven years of representing Belgium, Courtois has kept 29 clean sheets and conceded just 42 goals. He is certainly one of the toughest keepers to get past and a serious contender for the Golden Glove award.
Standing at 1.99m, he is extremely calm when dealing with set pieces. His height gives him an added advantage in being able to claim the ball from a high position and reach out for the ball as quickly as possible. The goalkeeper is also quick on his feet and distributes the ball accurately to his team-mates. According to Squawka, Courtois has an average distribution success of 75% and a claim success of 90%.
When compared to Simon Mignolet, who has struggled for game time this season, Courtois is the preferred option. The Liverpool goalkeeper has always played second fiddle and only made 21 international appearances. The third keeper who is also traveling to Russia is Koen Casteels, the youngest of the trio. He has the least international experience and has not made a senior international appearance for his country. Casteels is most likely just going to serve as a backup to Courtois and Mignolet. The keeper to look out for in the competition is certainly Courtois, whose Chelsea's future remains uncertain.