The 2018 World Cup kicks off on June 14 as host Russia takes on Saudi Arabia. CBS Sports will have you covered for each game, all the important news and more, as well as profiles of all of the teams.
The Belgium national team’s golden generation enters a World Cup this summer where, on paper, it can win. Loaded with talent all over the field, with the only real concern being a far from youthful defense, the Red Devils have all the makings of a deep-run team. But can they gel enough under Roberto Martinez to do some damage?
World Cup appearaces: 13
Best finish: Fourth place (1986)
Last World Cup: 2014, quarterfinals
June 18: vs. Panama at 11 a.m. ET, stream on fuboTV (Try for free)
June 23: vs. Tunisia at 8 a.m. ET, stream on fuboTV (Try for free)
June 28: vs. England at 2 p.m. ET, stream on fuboTV (Try for free)
Provisional squad (will be trimmed to 23 for the World Cup):
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Matz Sels (Newcastle United).
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Laurent Ciman (LAFC), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Christian Kabasele (Watford), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Jordan Lukaku (Lazio), Thomas Meunier (Paris Saint-Germain), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur).
Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Nacer Chadli (West Bromwich Albion), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Youri Tielemans (Monaco), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian).
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Dries Mertens (Napoli).
Kevin De Bruyne. The midfield maestro of Manchester City is the heart and soul of this team’s attack. De Bruyne can score, but he is also so create, recording a season-high 16 assists in the Premier League this past season. That creativity, looking for guys like Romelu Lukaku up top, will be key to this team’s success. He has top vision, but if he isn’t sharp, this team has very little chance of doing much of anything.
Player to watch
Dries Mertens. The Napoli man has gotten better with time. He scored 34 goals for the Italian club in 2016-17 and had 24 this season. He’s small but really quick and clinical in front of goal. He may start, but if he comes off the bench he’s a great option to spice up the attack.
A very managable group means they should get through. But this tournament won’t feel like a success unless they make it to the semifinals. This is probably the most talented Belgian side in history, and the pressure is on to perform. An aging defense is concerning, but the veteran ability at the back may be enough as long as the attack produces consistently and isn’t wasteful.