Saturday, 4 December 2010

Why Belgium could be a force to be reckoned with come 2018

With all the attention of the recent 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, I think we’ve all forgotten that it doesn’t matter where the World Cup is held, it only matters who wins it. Yes it would have been nice for England to host the 2018 World Cup, but since we’re not let's start focusing on rebuilding the nation. Something which the Belgium Football association have been doing for awhile now and whilst Brazil 2014 may be too soon for their budding squad, Russia 2018 may be the time for the Belgians to really take on some of the other top teams in the World.

Belgium in the 80s and 90s where after all, a very god side giving England a tough game in Italia 1990 until David Platt nicked a winner in extra time. It was the time of the midfield maestro Jan Ceulemans and the attacking midfielder Enzo Scifo, both of whom were highly regarded players in their time. Now however a new breed of Belgium footballer is rising. As far as football is concerned, Belgium is famed for created strong, physical defensive players, just look at Thomas Vermaelen or Vincent Kompany as examples, now however the Belgium squad has some bright attacking talents.

Romelu Lukaku is the newest sensation in European Football at the minute, with clubs like Real Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal all interested in the 17 year old striking sensation. And there’s good reason because at just 16 Lukaku became the Belgium league’s youngest ever top goal scorer, netting 15 goals in 25 games for Anderlecht. That achievement began many to liken Lukaku to Chelsea’s own Didier Drogba and with good reason because he’s the complete package as far as strikers go, with pace, power, precision and positioning all bundled together in a giant 6ft 4in muscular frame.

It wasn’t just his goals in the Belgium League that got all the big clubs raving. Lukaku performed in Europe for Anderlecht when he became the youngest goal scorer ever in a UEFA competition when he put 2 goals past Ajax in the Europa League. He then went on to score again against Hamburger before Anderlecht was knocked out.

But one player doesn’t make a team, however a strong midfield backing up Lukaku will certainly help the Belgium National team. With a potential midfield line-up including Eden Hazard –dubbed the next Zinedane Zidane and said to have more potential than Messi, Everton’s Marouane Fellaini who’s a defensive rock in the Premier League and playmaker Steven Defour who has attracted big attention from Manchester United with passing and attacking abilities likened to Paul Scholes.

Then of course there’s Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany, a £6m bargain signing by Mark Hughes and now a key player in Roberto Mancini’s defence for the Blues. He’s also proved to be a key man for the Belgium defence after being capped 32 times by his country and even scoring a goal.

It’s of no surprise then that three of the key players in the new look Belgium squad are actually some of the youngest players to ever play for their country, with Hazard, Kompany and Lukaku all playing for Belgium since they were 17 and currently the first three names on the team sheet. Better yet all three will be in their prime and either 30 or younger come 2018, with a strong attacking force up front, a solid defence at the back and a midfield packed with talented playmakers such as Defour and Fellaini, things are starting to look good for the Belgium National Football team which has lost its identity over the past few years.