Belgium's best chance is now

2015-12-11 17:00
Eden Hazard (AFP)
Eden Hazard (AFP)

Paris - Coached by the tenacious Marc Wilmots and brimming with attacking flair, Belgium is a who's who of Premier League talent and one of the teams to avoid.

Not since the 1980s has Belgium had such a promising side, with the skill of Chelsea star Eden Hazard and Manchester City's wing-sensation Kevin De Bruyne giving defenders nightmares.

De Bruyne and Hazard scored five goals each as Belgium topped its qualifying group in style.

There is a real confidence running through the side, which is balanced throughout - boasting one of the world's best young goalkeepers in Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois and an outstanding defender in City's Vincent Kompany.

The team is quick on the break, solid at the back and there is plenty of steel in midfield with the likes of Zenit St. Petersburg's Axel Witsel and Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini.

Up front, Belgium has pace and power thanks to Everton's Romelu Lukaku, Liverpool's Christian Benteke and Divock Origi, and emerging Marseille striker Michy Batshuayi.

Belgium finished runner-up at the European Championship in 1980 and reached the World Cup semfinals in 1986, only to stumble across Diego Maradona's Argentina.

This is Belgium's best chance to win a major honor and kick-start a sustained period of success for a relatively young side.

The biggest task for Wilmots is juggling his options and nailing down his best side.

Here is a look at Belgium's top three players and its coach, Wilmots: 


Courtois has so much potential that Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho dropped Petr Cech and allowed him to leave.

Considering that Cech remains one of the best goalkeepers in the world, it says an awful lot about how good Courtois is.

Despite being only 23 years old, he has played nearly 200 club games for Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, in addition to his 33 international caps.

Considering his height, the 1.93-meter Courtois is incredibly agile on the line and is one of the best shot-stoppers in the world. He is also commanding on crosses.

Not much for Wilmots to worry about.


Quick and strong, Kompany is an incredibly tough defender to beat one-on-one.

Kompany has been the rock in Manchester City's two title-winning sides in recent years and his aerial prowess makes him the complete center-half.

With 71 caps, the 29-year-old Kompany is equally irreplaceable for his country.

However, Kompany has been prone to sudden lapses in form and his temperament sometimes gets the better of him. 


Hazard has been mentioned in the same breath as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo — although mostly by Hazard himself.

The dynamic winger has spoken of his lofty ambition to one day win the Golden Ball award, and when on top form he looks like a future candidate.

Blessed with lightning-quick feet, a devastating change of balance and burst pace, Hazard has all it takes to become one of the stars of Euro 2016 - though he has been below-par so far for Chelsea this season.

If he does rise to the occasion, others might start putting him in the same category as Messi and Ronaldo. 


You only need to watch videos of Marc Wilmots playing for his country to see how much the national jersey means to him.

A rampaging attacking midfielder with a brilliant eye for goal, Wilmots often carried Belgium single-handedly, scoring an impressive 28 international goals in 70 appearances.

Fearless as a player, fearless as a coach, Wilmots usually gets what he wants.

For proof of that, ask Eden Hazard — who was regularly kept on the bench by Wilmots early on in his international career.

The demanding Wilmots wanted more from Hazard, who kept complaining until he finally got the message.

Under Wilmots' tough tutelage, Hazard has blossomed.

Read more on:    belgium  |  euro 2016  |  eden hazard  |  soccer


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