World Cup team preview: Belgium

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Belgium have a genuine chance of mounting a serious challenge for world football’s biggest prize in Russia, given their star-studded squad.

Roberto Martinez’s squad will arrive at the 2018 World Cup with a fair amount of pressure due to their lofty ranking of third. They have been drawn in Group G alongside Tunisia, England and Panama.

The Red Devils breezed through the qualifying campaign as they won nine of their 10 games and were the joint-leading scorers with Germany on 43 goals.

Martinez’s side boasts an array of talent but the star man is undoubtedly Eden Hazard, who registered six goals and five assists to help book his country’s ticket to Russia.

They also have a potent striker in Romelu Lukaku. The Manchester United hitman is their all-time leading scorer with 34 goals and will be their link man up top. In Kevin De Bruyne, the Belgians have a graceful playmaker who can easily run games from the heart of midfield.

Their most experienced player is Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen with a total of 102 caps. Martinez opted to leave out Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan, but De Bruyne will have the likes of Mousa Dembele and Marouane Fellaini for company in the engine room.

Belgium played to a goalless draw against Portugal last week and hammered Costa Rica 4-1 on Monday as they wrapped up their preparations for the global showpiece.

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg).

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Thomas Meunier (Paris Saint-Germain), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic).

Midfielders: Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Youri Tielemans (Monaco), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham), Nacer Chadli (West Brom), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht).

Forwards: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Michy Batshuayi (Borussia Dortmund).