Belgium have announced their 26-man squad for the European Championship this summer as they look to claim their first major title.
The Red Devils will have their eyes on gold, as the world’s number one ranked international team head into the competition as one of the clear favourites.
Covid worries have led to UEFA increasing the squad sizes from the usual 23 up to 26, meaning more opportunity and even a few surprise inclusions.
Belgium are yet to win any international honours, and with some key players from their so called ‘Golden generation’ ageing this could be their best chance.
Fitness worries and a weak defence are the main concerns in this star-studded team, but expectations are still high.
With quality players like Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku who knows just how far they can go…
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Matz Sels (Strasbroug)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Jason Denayer (Lyon), Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica), Timothy Castagne (Leicester), Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund)
Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Leander Dendoncker (Wolves), Dennis Praet (Leicester), Youri Tielemans (Leicester), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Axel Witsel (Borussia Dortmund), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Nacer Chadli (Istanbul Basaksehir), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund)
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Romelu Lukaku (Inter), Jeremy Doku (Rennes), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Leandro Trossard (Brighton)
The star man: Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne has had himself another quality season and will have to continue his fine form if Belgium are to be glorious this summer.
With 9 goals and 17 assists this season for Manchester City, De Bruyne has solidified himself as one of the best players in the world.
The midfielder won the Premier League, the Carabao Cup and earned a spot in the Champions League final as one of the key figures in a brilliant City team.
Although Eden Hazard will wear the captain’s armband, De Bruyne is another leader in the squad and some top performances will be needed from him if Belgium are to reach their potential.
The Belgian will have the freedom to use his creative skill-set to influence the game, and a link up with Lukaku will make for brilliant viewing.
He did suffer a nasty facial injury in City’s Champions League defeat to Chelsea but is still expected to be fit to lead Belgium.
The one to look out for: Jeremy Doku
18 year-old Jeremy Doku is the youngest player in the squad, but don’t let his age deceive you as the young forward is ready to contribute.
The youngster already has two goals for his country, and earned himself a move to Ligue 1 club Rennes, impressing on his debut season.
Doku almost joined Liverpool in 2018, with Jurgen Klopp reportedly a big admirer of the winger.
Although Lukaku, Hazard and Michy Batshuayi will be ahead of him in the pecking order, Doku will also be one to watch if given the opportunity.
Expect pace and quality dribbling from the flier and, after his man of the match performance against Belarus, he will surely be in contention for a starting spot in the eleven soon.
The manager: Roberto Martinez
After a third place finish at the 2018 World Cup, Roberto Martinez will be keen for even more success this summer.
The former Everton boss, who took on the Belgium job in 2016, has implemented his possession based football and has dealt with the pressure of managing a team with several superstars.
Martinez has led the Red Devils to being the top ranked country in the world, an incredible feat.
The former Everton manager will be hoping for silverware this summer, with France, Germany and England seen as their closest competitors.
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