A new breed of footballing stars are quietly making their mark on European football. As these stars continue to progress, it’s clear that it won’t be long before Belgium are dining at international football’s top table. I was surprised when I saw the squad list of the Belgian national team. Most of these are rising (if not established) stars in top clubs all across the European Leagues. This plethora of youngsters mixed with experience means that this future XI is a truly frightening prospect on paper.
In Simon Mignolet they have one of the Premier League’s top goalkeepers. They also have Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois, who at just 20 years of age has established himself as La Liga’s most consistent goalkeeper as a result of some stunning performances on loan at Atletico Madrid.
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is joined by Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen and Arsenal’s Tomas Vermaelen in defence. Bayern Munich’s Daniel Van Buyten also forms part of a resolute group of defenders.
Belgium’s greatest strength lies in their midfield, with the likes of Everton’s Marouane Fellaini and Tottenham’s Moussa Dembele playing starring roles. Zenit St. Petersburg’s €40 million star Axel Witsel is in good company, with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Racing Genk’s experienced Thomas Buffel too.
Up front, Aston Villa revelation Cristian Benteke is joined by Everton’s Kevin Mirallas and Chelsea strikers Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne. Dries Mertens of PSV Eindhoven is also available and Eden Hazard’s younger brother, Thorgen, is believed to be one for the future.
The 2014 World Cup may be a tad premature for this Belgian side but Euro 2016 is a real possibility and at 16/1 Belgium represents great value.
A new footballing superpower has arrived, and it is time the world took notice.