Football

England XI v Belgium XI

Rooney & Hazard tussle for possession (©GettyImages)
Rooney & Hazard tussle for possession (©GettyImages).

A large contingent of the Belgian national football team currently ply their trade in the English Premier League for the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Everton.

With all the current media frenzy about their "Golden Era", let's see how their players compare one-on-one against European heavyweights England. 

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois v Joe Hart

While most of us probably haven't had the opportunity to witness the talent of Chelsea's on-loan Thibaut Courtois, the youngster is a target for numerous European heavyweights like Barcelona and Real Madrid. He has the highest number of clean sheets in the La Liga this season for Europa Champions Atletico Madrid; well ahead of Victor Valdez and Iker Casillas.

Joe Hart was central to Manchester City's 2011/12 Premier League success. He was the solution to England's long-standing keeper problems and has proved himself as arguably the Premier League's most solid custodian. 

Winner: Joe Hart

Right-back: Toby Alderweireld v Glen Johnson

Toby Alderweireld is the first choice right-back for Dutch giants Ajax. He has been linked with moves to Liverpool and Arsenal in the past.

Glen Johnson is the current Liverpool and England first choice right-back. He is a favourite of England manager Roy Hodgson and has been preferred to compatriots Kyle Walker, Phil Jones and Micah Richards.

Winner: Glen Johnson

Center-back: Vincent Kompany v Gary Cahill

They don't come much better than Man City captain Vincent Kompany. A solid defender with a great touch and a wide range of passing, the Belgian skipper is arguably the best centre-back in the Premier League today.

Hailed by many as the "New John Terry", Gary Cahill has recently won the Champions League and the FA Cup shortly after joining Chelsea. He is a big, athletic footballer with an eye for goal.

Winner: Vincent Kompany

Center-back: Thomas Vermaelen vs Joleon Lescott

The Arsenal skipper has been in and out of form this season, often finding himself on the bench for the Londoners. Vermaelen is, however, a hard-tackler and a great leader who always puts in a 100% for club and country.

Joleon Lescott has fallen out of the Manchester City squad this season but would probably still play ahead of his Manchester rival Rio Ferdinand. The City defender's performances were key to his club's recent successes and he is still a great asset to both his club and country.

Winner: Thomas Vermalen

Left-back: Jan Vertonghen v Ashley Cole

Big Jan Vertonghen was signed by Andre Villas-Boas' Tottenham at the start of the season and has already become a fan favourite at White Hart Lane. Traditionally a centre-back, Vertonghen's versatility enables him to fill in at left-back when required.

Ashley Cole is widely regarded as the best left-back that the world has seen over the last few years. Solid while defending and threatening while attacking, the 32-year-old is the best at what he does.

Winner: Ashley Cole

Centre-midfielder: Marouane Fellaini v Steven Gerrard

Perhaps two of Merseyside's all-time finest players, Fellaini and Gerrard would make a formidable midfield duo. Fellaini has recently displayed some formidable attacking and defensive form for Everton, sparking interest from top Premier League clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United.

The captain of the England national team, Steven Gerrard is one of his country's most talented footballers with a Champions League medal under his belt. Although he is at the peak end of his illustrious career, the Liverpool captain is still a great player to have in the middle of the park.

Winner: Marouane Fellaini

Centre-midfielder: Axel-Witsel v Jack Wilshire

Currently plying his trade at Russia's Zenit St. Petersburg after a switch from Benfica, Axel Witsel is a highly rated all-round midfielder. He has been strongly linked with Premier League heavyweights Manchester United and Chelsea in the past.

Young Jack Wilshire embodies the future of English football. He too, is an all-round midfielder who has the attributes to captain Arsenal and England one day. His ability to dribble passed players and pick out passes have resulted in the youngster being compared to Barcelona's Andres Iniesta.

Winner: Jack Wilshire

Right-wing: Kevin Mirallas v Aaron Lennon

Kevin Mirallas is a versatile Everton striker who often assumes the role of the right winger. He has been on good form this season and looks dangerous around the opposition's penalty area.

A Tottenham winger with blistering pace, Aaron Lennon can rip apart any defence in the world on his day. His ability to pick out crosses, run passed defenders and dribble on the counter-attack make the Englishman a nightmare for opposition defenders.

Winner: Aaron Lennon

Left-wing: Eden Hazard v Ashley Young

Eden Hazard is probably Belgium's most attractive footballer of all time. He was awarded the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award for two years running before he spectacularly joined the Champions League winners Chelsea in 2012 despite interest from nearly every major European powerhouse. In his first year at Stamford Bridge, Hazard has been nominated for the prestigious PFA award.

Despite being in poor form this season, Ashley Young is still a strong candidate to make the England starting line-up. The Manchester United man is a good crosser of the ball and has proved that he can support his full-back while defending.

Winner: Eden Hazard

Attacking midfield: Moussa Dembele v Wayne Rooney

Moussa Dembele is another exciting prospect of Belgian football and he is showing us why at White Hart Lane. His best role seems to be behind the main striker although he has been deployed elsewhere. Dembele can tackle, dribble, pick out a pass and score goals.

England's success in the 2014 World Cup will largely depend on Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United attacker is perhaps the most important player to his nation regardless of which position he plays in. Rooney is one of the best all-round footballers the Premier League has ever seen.

Winner: Wayne Rooney

Striker: Christian Benteke v Jermaine Defoe

Aston Villa's Benteke is the only reason his club are still in the Premier League. He was nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award after a sensational 22 goals this season for a struggling Aston Villa. Current form suggests that he'd be picked ahead of Chelsea on-loan youngsters Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku.

Jermaine Defoe is pretty much a hit or a miss. On his day he can score some sensational goals. But on an off-day he's pretty ineffective and doesn't contribute at all to the team. The veteran's form for Spurs has dipped after a strong start to the season although he recently scored an important goal for the club against Manchester City.

Winner: Christian Benteke

On paper the two teams look evenly matched. The England squad definitely has more depth in it. In conclusion, the likes of Joe Hart, Jack Wilshire and Wayne Rooney hold the key to their nation's success.

A large part of the Belgian side is still young and they are likely to give teams like England a run for their money in the years to come.

WINNER: ENGLAND

 

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