On Sept. 5—two days before Belgium opened their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign away to Wales—prominent Brussels-based daily La Derniere Heure ran a photo of the national team on its front page, accompanied by the headline, “Les Diables, 3e Equipe la Pus Chere Due Monde.”
“The Devils, 3rd most expensive team in the world.”
To arrive at its conclusion, La DH had tabulated the recent transfer fees commanded by members of Belgium’s squad and found that only Spain and Brazil eclipsed its €125 “value.”
Obviously, their mathematics was an exercise in hyperbole as much as anything else (you can hardly judge a national team’s value based on open-market payments), but they succeeded in making their point: Belgium are poised to contend for honours, not just at the World Cup in Brazil, but at every senior tournament over the next few years as well.
In the following five slides we’ll examine why that is. Why things are suddenly coming together for the nation of barely 11 million people, and why this team of Belgian players could well surpass that of Claesen and Ceulemans and the 1980s side that contested both a World Cup semifinal and European Championship final.