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How long will it take for Belgium to establish themselves as a force in world football?

June 6, 2013 By Abdullah Zubair
The Red Devils finally seem to be coming of age, and it will be interesting to see whether they will be able to compete at all fronts in years to come.
Belgium have failed to qualify for a major tournament for more than a decade now, their last appearance in a notable competition was back in 2002 when they qualified for the FIFA World Cup held in South Korea and Japan. They were controversially knocked out by eventual winners Brazil, after a goal by Marc Wilmots was wrongfully disallowed and the Belgians were forced to bow out of the tournament.

They have not been able to establish themselves in European competitions either and their last appearance in the Euro Cup came back in 2000, when they were joint hosts with Netherlands. They narrowly missed out on a Euro 2012 berth after finishing third, two points behind second placed Turkey.

However the national side has been making major strides in recent years, and as things stand the Belgium side can establish itself as a reckoning force in years to come. Many of the Belgian internationals have established themselves as key figures in some of the biggest clubs in the world, with the English Premier League playing host to the majority of Belgian stars.

In goal Belgium surely have one of the most promising goalkeepers in the world, in shape of Thibaut Courtois. Despite his young age the 21 year old has successfully established himself as one of the finest goalkeepers in Spain, and will definitely benefit his parent club Chelsea as well as his national side in the long run.

In defence Belgium have the rock solid figures of Vincent Kompany, Thomas Vermaelen and Jan Vertonghen. The Premier League trio are a magnificent combination of steel, pace and technique and are key figures for their respective sides. They are accompanied at the back by treble winning Bayern Munich veteran Van Buyten as well as Ajax’s versatile defender Toby Alderweireld.

In the middle of the park the trio of Mousa Dembele, Maroune Fellaini and Alex Witsel form an exquisite midfield. Dembele and Fellaini in particular have enjoyed exceptional campaigns with their respective sides and tick all the boxes which suggest that the two have promising futures ahead of them.

The Belgium national team has in its ranks some of the finest attacking talents who are already being touted as future superstars. One of them is Chelsea winger Eden Hazard who according to retiring Man United midfielder Paul Scholes “has the potential in a few seasons to be as good as Leo Messi”. At 22 years of age the Chelsea number 17 has shown glimpses of the glorious future he has ahead of him which will surely do good to his national side.

Whereas young guns Christian Benteke and Romelu Lukaku have also been making waves in the Premier League and rounded of their exceptional seasons by finishing in the scorer charts on fourth and sixth respectively. The Belgian forward line will also benefit from Everton star Kevin Mirallas who has had a fine season with the Toffees. After a slow start to life in England the 25 year old soon found his feet and began to blossom in his role finishing the season with six goals and three assists.

With the hoard of talent at their expense it will be fair to predict that Belgium will be a stiff opposition in the upcoming World cup to be held in Brazil. Most of the stars in the Belgium line-up are yet to reach their peak years and it will be interesting to see how the current crop develops and performs in future European and World Cup competitions.

The Belgium side does appear to show a lot of promise, but the question still remains whether Belgium will be able to compete with the other heavyweights in European and World football in years to come. The likes of Germany and Spain are currently benefiting from a golden generation which is complimented by an efficient youth system and it will be very difficult for Belgium to stand up against the two heavy weights.

Similarly France and Brazil are other sides with a lot of budding talent and Belgium surely do have horrendous task at hand to establish themselves as one of the most feared sides in the world.

Belgium are however in a growing phase and the chief priority for them would be to qualify for the upcoming World Cup. The Red Devils are currently undefeated in World Cup qualifying matches and are on level points with second placed Croatia.

The group leaders welcome Serbia to King Boudewijn Stadium on Friday and a victory will further allow them to cement a place in a major competition for the first time in 11 years.

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