World Cup 2018: Belgium Squad Preview, Fixtures, Where to Watch, Best Starting XI & Predictions
Belgium will be one of the most exciting teams in the 2018 FIFA World Cup without a doubt. They were unstoppable in the qualifying stages raking in 43 goals while conceding merely 6.
With players like Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens and Romelu Lukaku in top form, this might be the best team the Red Devils have fielded in the biggest stage of them all.
With a steady defence, which is not entirely without its problems to be fair, and Thibaut Courtois between the sticks, they will prove to be a very difficult team to break down. Given their squad depth and the sheer quality of their starters, great things are expected from them this time around.
Belgium's Group Fixtures and Venues
Match 1: Belgium vs Panama, Sochi, 18 June 2018
Match 2: Belgium vs Tunisia, Moscow, 23 June 2018
Match 3: England vs Belgium, Kaliningrad, 28 June 2018
Also read: Top 5 Group Games to Watch at the World Cup
TV and Live Stream
TV: Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 2 HD, Sony Ten 3, Sony Ten 3 HD
Live Stream: Sony LIV
Belgium Squad for the World Cup
GOALKEEPERS: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Matz Sels (Newcastle United)
DEFENDERS: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles FC), Christian Kabasele (Watford), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Jordan Lukaku (Lazio), Thomas Meunier (Paris St-Germain), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)
MIDFIELDERS: Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Youri Tielemans (Monaco), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian)
FORWARDS: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Nacer Chadli (West Brom), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Key Players to Watch: Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne
Belgium Coach: Roberto Martinez
Roberto Martinez's appointment as the head coach of Belgium came as a surprise to many. Martinez is not experienced on the international front.
However, the best thing about Martinez is that he has plenty of experience in the Premier League. He has managed Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Everton and Belgium's squad has a raft of individuals plying their trade in the English top-flight.
Courtois, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Mousa Dembele, Fellaini, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku are all Premier League stars and Martinez will know how to go about managing his troop.
Belgium's Preferred Formation
Belgium are capable of playing in a couple of formations. But 3-4-2-1 is the preferred formation for the Red Devils. They use Meunier and Carrasco on either wing. Mousa Dembele will start at defensive midfield and will have De Bruyne alongside him.
Mertens and Hazard play as no. 8s with Lukaku ahead of them.
In a 4-2-3-1, Mertens and Hazard play wider with Witsel, De Bruyne and Dembele in midfield. Vertonghen will start at left back. Alderweireld will be partnered with Kompany or Vermaelen and Muenier will take charge of the right wing.
Belgium's Best Starting XI
Belgium have no dearth of quality in midfield on in the final third. But they will need to drop one high-profile star from the team no matter what. What happens in the 3-4-2-1 is that the midfield gets congested and Hazard and Mertens do not get enough space to work their magic.
Dembele and Witsel can dominate from a deeper position and enable De Bruyne to pull the strings further up front.
Vertonghen can start at left-back. Kompany and Alderweireld will be a formidable combo in central defence. Meunier is easily their first choice at right back.
But the problem with this formation is that Carrasco will need to sit out. But he sailed to China in January and therefore, it might not exactly be a tough call if you know what I mean.
Belgium's History at the World Cup
Belgium have accomplished nothing worth writing home about on the international stage. They missed out on 2 World Cups- in 2006 and 2010.
They reached the Round of 16 in the 2002 World Cup.
Marc Wilmots guided them till the quarterfinals in 2014 where they lost out to Argentina. But their resurgence has taken the world by storm. They even topped the FIFA rankings for a bit in 2015.
Prediction: How far can Belgium go?
Belgium should gallop through the group stage as England are their toughest opponents and we all know how that goes. But things will get tricky in the knockout stages as teams like Spain, France, Brazil and Germany are all powerhouses packed to the rafters with undeniable quality and talent.
In the Round of 16, the topper of Group G will play the runners-up of Group H which could be one of Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan. So essentially, if things go as predicted, they could be facing either Senegal or Poland.
But beyond that, the Belgians will have a tough time. They will be in for a clash with either Germany or Brazil and sparks are bound to fly.
Prediction: Quarter-final exit.
What do you think? How far can Belgium go in the 2018 World Cup? Let us know in the comments below.