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Vincent Kompany Included in Belgium World Cup Squad, Christian Benteke Left out

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2018

Belgium's defender Vincent Kompany (L) and Belgium's head coach Roberto Martinez attend a training session of the Belgian national football team on November 7, 2016, in Tubize, Belgium, ahead of an international friendly football match against The Netherlands on November 9. / AFP / Belga / VIRGINIE LEFOUR / Belgium OUT        (Photo credit should read VIRGINIE LEFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
VIRGINIE LEFOUR/Getty Images

Vincent Kompany has been included in the Belgium squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup despite concerns over his fitness, while Christian Benteke has not made the final cut. 

The Belgium Twitter account provided the 23-man group for the tournament in Russia on Monday:

Belgian Red Devils @BelRedDevils

🗒 This is our @FIFAWorldCup squad list ! Let’s go #REDTOGETHER to Russia ! 🇧🇪 🔜 #WorldCup 🏆 https://t.co/4FBWfiKZGJ

Michy Batshuayi, Toby Alderweireld and Simon Mignolet reacted to being included in the squad:

Michy Batshuayi @mbatshuayi

The last time I was on a pitch I came out like this and some doctors told me that my World Cup Dreams were over (again) ... today I’m going Russia 😍🏆🇷🇺 #GodIsGreat #determination https://t.co/CtCC1q4inz

Alderweireld Toby @AlderweireldTob

A massive honour to be called up once again, but this journey has only started🤞🏻Come on @BelRedDevils! 👊🏻🇧🇪 #RedTogether #WorldCup https://t.co/w001Pxx3xA

Simon Mignolet @SMignolet

Very pleased to be in the @BelRedDevils World Cup squad once again 🇧🇪 Since my first cap, it’s always been an honour to play for my country & represent my nation 🙌🏻 #MignoletMoments #RedTogether #WorldCup @FIFAWorldCup https://t.co/AYML2C8Rtj

There were fears Kompany would not be available for the competition after he suffered an injury in the 0-0 draw against Portugal on Saturday. However, the Manchester City man has been deemed fit enough to be included in Roberto Martinez's travelling party.

Speaking after the announcement of the squad, Martinez said the hardest decision he had to make was whether or not to include Benteke after his disappointing campaign at Crystal Palace this season:

Belgian Red Devils @BelRedDevils

🗣️ R Martínez : "@chrisbenteke has been the thoughest decision. But it is for the balance of the squad. We have two number 9's. @mbatshuayi & @RomeluLukaku9 have taken those positions." #REDTOGETHER 🇧🇪 #WorldCup

Benteke, who missed the 2014 tournament due to injury, was a long way short of his best in 2017-18 for the Eagles, as he netted a meagre three goals in 31 Premier League games. 

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While Benteke can provide a threat with his physical play and aerial power, Belgium are blessed with variety and quality in the final third.

Manchester United man Romelu Lukaku is expected to lead the line, while Chelsea's Batshuayi will offer stiff competition for a starting spot after recovering from an ankle problem.

Belgium are blessed with so much firepower.
Belgium are blessed with so much firepower.Soccrates Images/Getty Images

It's the supporting cast to the centre-forward where Belgium have tremendous depth, though, as they have a set of attacking midfielders capable of rivalling any side in world football.

Typically Dries Mertens and Eden Hazard flank Lukaku in Martinez's setup and behind them Kevin De Bruyne is poised to pull the strings. The latter enjoyed a sensational season for Manchester City and was a arguably the key man in their record-breaking Premier League campaign.

As noted by Sky Sports Statto, De Bruyne was the most creative player in the English top fight last season:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

.@DeBruyneKev won the inaugural ‘Playmaker of the Year’ award as the leading PL assist maker. The top 4 assist makers in 2017-18 all came from @ManCity: 16 - K. De Bruyne 15 - L. Sane 11 - D. Silva 11 - R. Sterling #PL https://t.co/DdNefPKH0d

In midfield Martinez opted not to include Roma star Radja Nainggolan in his initial 30-man group, although there are plenty of powerful options in the form of Mousa Dembele, Axel Witsel and Marouane Fellaini.

In defence the Red Devils also appear to be well stocked. Kompany, fitness permitting, is still a colossus, while Tottenham Hotspur duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are among the best defenders in the Premier League.

The talent is there for Belgium to make a deep run in this competition, and they will be expected to get out of a group containing England, Tunisia and Panama. It's up to Martinez to find a formula that can bring the best out of the squad at his disposal.

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