When football fans from all corners of the globe descend on the famous cities of Brazil next summer, for what is being tipped to be one of the greatest football tournaments in recent history, the usual suspects will be backed to lift the famous trophy.

The samba stars will be under a lot of pressure to win the competition on home turf, Argentina and Lionel Messi would love to win their first World Cup since 1986, Spain will look to keep their dominant stranglehold on world football and England would like a bit of luck to make it past the second round.

Along with Germany, Holland, Italy and Portugal all more then likely securing progression through the group stages, its a mouth-watering prospect of showcase football. But there has been talk in the shadows about one nation who have shown rapid progress together as a team to make a run to the final...Belgium.

The fact that Belgium lay claim to the oldest football association in continental Europe just shows that this relatively small nation of around 11 million people has always loved the beautiful game.

With some of the most famous clubs in the country being founded over 100 years ago (RSC Anderlecht 1908, Standard Liege 1898, Club Brugge 1891) proving again the long time admiration for football in its people.

From the year 1982 to 2002, Belgium qualified for every World Cup. That is a stat not to be undermined. So it was surprising to see their descent over the next 10 years. It was in 2007 they reached their all time low in the FIFA world rankings coming in at a lowly 71st position.

Following their first failure to qualify for a World Cup in 28 years came a limp attempt to secure qualification to Euro 2008 and some terrible performances in South Africa come 2010.

During this time they had many different managers and it was under Georges Leekens in 2012, who had previously coached the Red Devils from 1997-1999 - they once again failed to qualify for a major European tournament in Poland /Ukraine.

But it is under current coach Marc Wilmots and his extremely talented youthful squad of players that the Belgian fans have started to dream. With their possible starting XI, all Premier League players - Mignolet, Kompany, Vermaelen, Vertonghen, Dembele, Chadli, De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku, Mirallas and Benteke - not to mention Courtois, Fellaini, Mertens, Witsel and Van Buyten.

The strength of this current squad is enviable and full of talent with a perfect balance of youth and experience. With this team sitting atop their qualifying group, five points ahead of their nearest rival Croatia and 14 points ahead of 3rd positioned Serbia with only two games to go, they will fly over the Christ redeemer statue and into Brazil next summer, brimming with confidence along with tremendous ability.

Take a chance and put a few quid on Belgium as your outside bet to claim glory next year on world football's greatest stage...


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