GROUP H
Belgium

THE 60-SECOND OVERVIEW

After a 12-year absence from finals, Belgium return to the big stage with arguably their most talented roster of players ever. They dispatched all opponents sent their way in qualifying, and in the process managed to unite their oft-fractured nation behind them.

Expectations are high with so many of the squad household names across the biggest clubs in Europe, but will the demands of an international tournament be too much for a side with little previous experience? Former national team great Marc Wilmots has the nous to keep his players' feet on the ground.

THE DREAM

Many fans hope to match the feats of the 1986 World Cup, at which polished performances from the likes of Enzo Scifo and Jan Ceulemans helped Belgium into the semi-finals. Should everything click, this generation could even do better.

The group draw proved favourable, avoiding the bigger names. Wilmots will hope that his side show their ruthlessness early, giving them confidence for what lies ahead. Only if Belgium can navigate the group without trouble and pass the last 16 will their fans start to truly believe they can do it.

THE NIGHTMARE

An unravelling. While this team might strike fear into many at the tournament, you only need to scratch the surface to uncover some real issues. Despite conceding just six in their qualifying group, Belgium had one man to thank for that record: goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’ freakish ability to repel shots forgave the four centre-backs in front of him for numerous defensive lapses.

The concern is that this team peaked 12 months too soon. Though they coasted through qualifying with relative ease, the stronger nations in Brazil will punish those who don’t take their chances.

THE STATS
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PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO...

WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE: VINCENT KOMPANY

Much like his manager, the Rode Duivels captain has a way with words. The Manchester City defender may well use some of his pre-match press conferences to express his gratitude to the locals.

PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO...

MAKE AN IMPRESSION (LITERALLY): MAROUANE FELLAINI

The bustling midfielder has struggled in his first season at Old Trafford, with a foul in the Manchester derby being his defining moment. His elbows could get the better of him if Belgium are up against it.

PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO...

WIN THE GOLDEN GLOVE: THIBAUT COURTOIS

The Chelsea loanee has solidified his reputation as Europe’s finest young goalkeeper with Atletico Madrid this year. His vast array of saves could be called upon in the latter stages – and could prove crucial for Belgium’s chances.

DID YOU KNOW?
AFTER HIS PLAYING CAREER Marc Wilmots became A member of Belgium’s senate as part of a Walloon Liberal Party, but left to concentrate on coaching.

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A thoroughly impressive squad, from goalkeeper to goal-baggers. "Dark horses" for so long, it'll be disappointing if they don't come good.