2014 World Cup: Picking a Belgium XI That Will Be the Dark Horse
There's no denying it. Belgium have a lot of potential. The transfer window was filled with talk about Belgian players such as Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, with the latter eventually going to Chelsea. Sure the talk is about clubs getting these players, but they will all be on the same team, and if Belgium wins its tough qualifying group, they have the potential to make a real impact in the competition.
This formation is a 4-2-2-2
LB - CB - CB - RB
DM - DM
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
Simon Mignolet is a name familiar to many of us who follow the Barclays Premier League. If you remember, he had a great game with Sunderland when they drew 0-0 at the Emirates, making several fantastic saves. He can maintain that ability on the international stage, as shown above. If he keeps making saves like that, the Belgian goal will be safe.
Left Back: Nicolas Lombaerts
At left back is the consistent Zenit St. Petersburg man. He is a skilled tackler and very good in the air. Plus, he can switch to centre back at any time.
Centre Back and Captain: Thomas Vermaelen
Most of us know who Thomas Vermaelen is. He's an excellent player, as well as the leader of Arsenal's defense. He is a good candidate to captain this side because of his leadership abilities. Did I mention he's also an excellent goal scorer? He is, as shown above. His ball-playing skills as a defender make him a perfect compliment to...
Centre Back: Vincent Kompany
Vincent Kompany. A member of the PFA team of the year last season, the current Manchester City man is an excellent one on one defender as well as a brilliant tackler. His physical presence on the pitch is one that is hard to top.
Right Back: Toby Alderwield
Toby Alderwield of Ajax may be known more as a centre back, but he can also play at right back. He would be a useful choice, considering Belgium's lack of players at that position. I don't know much of him except for the fact that he is apparently an excellent long range shooter, as evidenced in the video.
Defensive Midfielder: Jan Vertonghen
Jan Vertonghen, a one time Arsenal target, is usually a centre back for Ajax. However, he can also play midfield and in that sense he is a similar player to his former teammate Thomas Vermaelen. He can play the ball well and score goals, too.
Defensive Midfielder: Marouane Fellaini
As an Everton fan, I know a lot about our afro-sporting friend Fellaini. What I know is that he can dominate a game when he shows up, and although he's not the best goalscorer, he is a brilliant physical presence and can play long balls quite well.
Left Winger: Eden Hazard
What else is to be said about Eden Hazard? He is a simply cracking player, and the fact that he has not been snapped up by a European giant is a testament to the ability of his French club, Lille. The showpiece of this team, if Hazard continues his current path expect him to be dribbling around the pitch in Brazil.
Right Winger: Kevin Mirallas
Kevin Mirallas is Hazard's compliment on the right. A product of Standard Liege, he currently plays his trade for Greek giants Olympiakos. If he continues the form he showed in the video above, he won't be playing there for long, however.
Left Striker: Romelu Lukaku
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
During the summer, Lukaku probably attracted as much media attention as Eden Hazard. However, he actually made a move, and although this might not be good for his growth, he will surely grow and that is why he is one of the top prospects right alongside Hazard at the moment. To boot, he will only be 21 by the time of the world cup, so there is still plenty of future left for him.
Right Striker: Moussa Dembele
Watch the video first. Yeah, you just saw that. If Moussa Dembele plays like that, he can be the star of the tournament. However, he hasn't been the most prolific player for Fulham since he moved there. Luckily for Belgium, there are plenty of other contenders for the spot...
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Such is the depth of Belgium's player pool that there are plenty of other quality players that could play for them. Here is a list with their current age and club:
Axel Witsel of Benfica, age 22
Jelle Vossen of Racing Genk, age 22 [the top Belgian goalscorer in the Belgian league last season]
Steven Defour of FC Porto, age 23
Marvin Ogunjimi of Racing Genk, age 23
Dredryck Boyata of Bolton, age 20
Sebastien Pognocoli of Standard Liege, age 24
Kevin De Bruyne of Racing Genk
Nacer Chadli of FC twente, age 22
Dries Mertens of PSV, age 24
Denis Odoi of Anderlecht, age 23
Thiabut Courtois of Atletico Madrid, age 19