PARIS – Thanks to being in a favorable Group H draw that includes Algeria, Russia, South Korea and Eden Hazard, Belgium is a team to keep an eye on in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Currently ranked 11th by FIFA, ahead of perennial World Cup contenders such as the United States(13th), Netherlands(15th) and France(17th) Belgium has a chance to make some serious noise down in Brazil, with Hazard being the main trigger man.
Hazard, a 23-year-old attacking midfielder/forward for English Premier League side, Chelsea looks to be the focal point of a Belgian team that also has the world-class talent in the form of Jan Vertonghen(Tottenham Hotspur), Thomas Vermaelen(Arsenal), Vincent Kompany(Manchester City), Daniel Van Buyten(Bayern Munich), Thibaut Courtois(Atletico Madrid), Marouane Fellaini(Manchester United), Romelu Lukaku (Everton) and Kevin Mirallas(Everton).
Notable standouts such as Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke was originally selected to the Red Devils, before withdrawing due to injury.
Despite the loss of Benteke, Hazard, a former standout for Ligue 1 side, Lille, scored 14 goals for the Blues, en route to winning the 2014 PFA Young Player Of The Year Award and being proclaimed by Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho, “the best young footballer in the world”. Since arriving from France in 2012, Hazard has scored 23 goals in 69 apps for Chelsea.
In international play, Hazard had tallied six goals in 44 apps for Marc Wilmots’ les Diables Rouges, Hazard will need to be more proactive if Belgium is to stand a chance down in Brazil.
Known for his creative and attacking mindset, look for Hazard to be the main engine behind the Belgian attack in the group stages. If Belgium is able to advance to the knockout round, expect Hazard to be the reason why.