It is the golden area of Belgium football. The national team's roster is filled with players that rose from youth academies and now play for top teams around the continent. From goalkeeper to striker, through all formations and arrays, the Red Devils boasts some of the leading players in Europe. And that's even before one looks at the starting line-up. A slight an inspection of the substitutes will provide a glimpse of how deep the team is and how many options does it have.
The fact is, Belgium is so good, most of the bench players can easily start for most of the top teams. Let's take a quick look at the bench: Goalkeeper - Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) Defense - among others, long standing captain Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Thomas Munier (Paris Saint Germain), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic Glasgow) In the magnificent midfield you can choose between Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian), wunderkind Yori Tielemans (Monaco), Kevin Mirallas (Everton) and Nacer Chadli (West Bromwich Albion) The attackers' list is made of Divock Origi (Wolfsburg), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) and Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea). Not Bad, ah?
Actually, It's the second coming. Belgium had an extremely talented group of players in the 80's and early 90's, but talent alone isn't enough. That team featured goalkeepers Jean-Marie Pfaff and Michel Preud'homme, defender Eric Gerets, midfielder Rene Vandereycken and attackers Francois Van der Elst and Jan Ceulemans, the team's most caped player ever, with 96 matches. Bernard Voorhoof and Paul van Himst are top goal scorers, with 30 goals each, but there is a good chance that current strikers' crop, especially Romelu Lukaku, with 24 goals in 60 appearances, will surpass them sometimes soon.
That first golden age team reached the UEFA 1980 Euro Final and lost to West Germany. Between 1982-2002, Belgium reached every world cup, reached a high with a fourth place in 1986, but usually packed early in the round of 16 and underperformed. Then came a drop, in which the team did not qualify for the 2006 and 2010 tournaments, before coming back strong with the current generation, which disappointed with a quarter-final only showing in the FIFA 2014 World Cup Brazil.
But the group of current players is much more talented than the old guard, more of them play at the highest level of club competition in Europe's most challenging leagues, including the Champions League on a regular basis. There can be no excuse for this generation, especially not after hitting number one in FIFA's World Ranking in 2015. From here, talent alone will not do. In order to fulfil their potential and be remembered as a truly great team, the Red Devils are not shy anymore. They talk silverware, they want silverware and there is no reason for them not to win silverware.
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