Arsenal had a horrible first game day, by falling to a 1-3 loss at the hands of an inspired Aston Villa. Benteke scored twice from the penalty spot, after Villa defender Luna scored to come-back from an early Giroud goal.
What looked like a dream of a fantasy football manager, turned into reality at Stamford Bridge as well. Benteke had one shot at goal, and he took full advantage of it, to level the score right before half-time. Surprisingly, Chelsea had gone in front thanks to another Belgian, Eden Hazard. Another Belgian international, Romelu Lukaku came on in the second half to replace Senegalese, Demba Ba.
This is Belgium’s love affair with the English Premier League. 10 players ply their trade at an English club. Battling out against each other week in and week out, but coming together during their country’s training sessions.
No doubt, Belgium has talent in their hands. We have Eden Hazard, who many believe will become the best in the world eventually. Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku, his Chelsea team-mates are also very much capable of one day becoming the best in the world. Kevin De Bruyne who returns after an impressive loan appearance at Werder Bremen is set to cement a spot in the first team under Jose Mourinho. Much remains to be seen about how he plays a vital role in Chelsea’s hunt for silverware.
Then we have Moussa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham, who have become the crux of Andre Villas Boas’s philosophy at White Hart Lane. Down at the Merseyside we have Simon Mignolet , whose recent transfer to Liverpool has seen him given a fighting chance against current Belgium goalkeeper, Courtois himself.
Kevin Mirallas, was vital in Everton’s seventh place finish last-season, with David Moyes branding him an important player. His team-mate, Marouane Fellaini has transfer speculations surrounding him every-time he steps on to the Everton turf. Then we have captain fantastic’s in the form of Thomas Vermaelen of Arsenal and Vincent Kompany of Manchester City. The recent transfer of Nacer Chadli to Tottenham, is just another arrival to the Belgian contingent that often meets up and holds dinner parties.
This is however just the famous Belgians playing it out in England. There are players all across Europe , many of them having their talents hidden in the eyes of the public, and others being chases by European clubs. 17 year old, Zakaria Bakkali, whose infamous rise at PSV Eindhoven came after a sensational hat-trick on his debut, is being chased by a number of top-flight English clubs. He is born in a small town in Liege, Belgium.
Thorgan Hazard, the younger brother of Eden Hazard, who plays for Chelsea and is currently out on loan to Zulte Waregem, is another young player expected to shine for his country. How can one also forget Axel Witsel who plays for FC Zenit and Dries Mertens , who plays for Rafael Benitez’s Napoli.
Toby Alderweireld who currently plays for Ajax, can play both in the center and as a right-back. Clubs such as Leverkusen, Liverpool, Napoli and Norwich are monitoring his development after he refused to sign a new contract.
They have the right blend of youth and experience. That’s what makes them stand-out as one of the expected shocks of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Marc Wilmots, the manager of the current national team, has seen the country’s rise in prominence in the international scene, by being involved in the international setup since 1986.
One cannot clearly say how far Belgium will go. As of now, I would be surprised if they at-least didn’t reach the quarter finals. As we’ve seen with England’s golden generation, you can also fail miserably. However, the country that has a population of 11 million people, has a lot to look forward to.