Belgium World Cup Squad – Wilmots selects Origi in only surprise in pre-selection
Marc Wilmots has named his provisional squad of 30 (24 plus six on standby) players for the World Cup in Brazil, including the usual suspects of Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany and Romelu Lukaku.
There aren’t too many surprised in the Belgium manager’s quota, with most places locked in way before the end of the season. However the biggest surprise is the inclusion of Lille’s Divock Origi. The 19-year old has excelled for the youth teams but never ever earned a full international cap for the Rode Duivels.
Here’s that selection in full:
GOALKEEPERS – 4
Thibaut Courtois – Enjoyed yet another stellar season on loan at Atletico Madrid, securing a Champions League final berth and title push with Atleti.
Simon Mignolet – Despite making a few errors in his debut season at Anfield, Mignolet can be generally happy with his performances for Liverpool as they mounted their strongest title challenge for many years.
Koen Casteels – It’s a race against time for the Hoffenheim keeper to make the squad after breaking his shin in April. Wilmots will give him a chance to prove his fitness before cutting down the quota.
Sammy Bossut – The Zulte Waregem goalkeeper has made great strides in recent seasons after initially not fulfilling his potential. He will only be part of the final 23 if Casteels is unable to make it.
DEFENDERS – 8
Vincent Kompany – Securing his second Premier League title mere days ago, Kompany’s diplomatic ways will prove invaluable to Wilmots in Brazil.
Toby Alderweireld – Centre-back by trade, right back by neccessity for Belgium, Alderweireld’s move to Atletico has been hit and miss, spending a lot of time as back-up.
Thomas Vermaelen – The Arsenal centre-back has missed most of the campaign through injury, yet if fully-fit is acertainity for Wilmots in defence.
Jan Vertonghen – Another defender who hasn’t enjoyed the best of seasons, compared to 2012/13, but his talents shouldsee him selected, probably at left-back.
Daniel Van Buyten – The only player selected with prior World Cup experience, van Buyten has barely figured in Pep Guardiola’s Bayern side. Experience counts heavily in his favour.
Anthony Vanden Borre – Once a great hope, Vanden Borre’s stock fell pretty heavily once he left Anderlecht. Now back at the club that made him, the right-back is looking to prove to many why he was so highly rated to begin with.
Laurent Ciman – The Standard centre-back is one of the few in this squad still plying his trade in Belgium. He’s enjoyed a good season, though his team have faltered in the playoffs.
Nicolas Lombaerts – Another centre-back forced out to the flanks, Lombaerts was arguably the most reliable defender in Belgium’s qualifying campaign. Pivotal for Zenit.
MIDFIELDERS – 6
Axel Witsel – One of the first names on Wilmots’ teamsheet. Playing the No.6 role expertly, Witsel’s performances could lead him away from Zenit if he is as good as he was in qualifying.
Kevin De Bruyne – The Rode Duivels’ MVP in qualifying has found a new lease of life at Wolfsburg after being frozen out by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. His versatility in midfield is hugely important to Wilmots employing different systems. Likely to start on the wing.
Marouane Fellaini – An horrible season for Fellaini as he joined Manchester United and bore the brunt of fans’ ire, somewhat deservably for poor performances. Could use Brazil as revenge according to Wilmots.
Steven Defour – Despite limited first-team opportunities at Porto, the former Standard midfielder makes up the holy trinity for Wilmots in midfield. Expect him to be best used box-to-box.
Mousa Dembélé – The Spurs’ anchorman hasn’t had a great season by previous standards but is certain for Brazil, playing much of qualifying.
Nacer Chadli – Dembélé’s teammate has found it tought to adapt in England but improved as the season progressed. Wilmots is a fan anyway.
FORWARDS – 6
Romelu Lukaku – With Benteke missing out, the responsibility now falls on the Everton striker to lead the line. Has enjoyed yet another productive season away from Stamford Bridge, this time under the tutelage of Roberto Martinez.
Dries Mertens – The tricky Napoli winger was involved in a title charge before Benitez’s side faltered. Has looked good in Italy and is unlucky not to play for the Rode Duivels.
Eden Hazard – Hazard has been great for Mourinho’s Chelsea this season, but has not really found his feet for the Rode Duivels, just yet. If he replicates his club form for country, Belgium could go far.
Adnan Januzaj – The wildcard selection who will be given the friendlies before the tournament to stake his claim. Januzaj has shone at United amidst turmoil.
Kevin Mirallas – Another excellent season in England for Mirallas means a place on the plane. Most likely will be used from the bench as a replacement winger, but perhaps as striker given the scarcity of options.
Divock Origi – The wildcard selection by Wilmots. Never played before for the full side but has broken through at Lille this year.
STANDBY – 6
Sébastien Pocognoli – The Hannover left-back has endured a fairly mediocre campaign hence misses the cut.
Jelle Van Damme – Standard’s mouthpiece is down the pecking order in the national team but isn’t among the 24 here.
Thorgan Hazard – The outstanding player in Belgium through 2013, Eden’s brother has dipped albeit slightly in 2014. Very much an outsider here due to competition, so isn’t included in the main squad.
Radja Nainggolan – A transfer to Roma has helped Nainggolan go from the fringes of selection to a possible pick. Has impressed for the Giallorossi but has just missed out due to competition.
Michy Batshuayi – The Jupiler Pro League top scorer’s chances of making Brazil were boosted through Benteke’s injury, but his goals weren’t enough to persuade Wilmots to take him. Perhaps lack of maturity.
Guillaume Gillet – The Anderlecht man played a few times during qualifying but has found playing time limited at Anderlecht recently, thus dropped to the standby list.