The World Cup is just around the corner, and with the pressure and anticipation rising, I'd like to introduce 'Hands Up For Your Colours' - A World Cup series, in which I take charge of one of the most underachieving teams of recent years on the international stage.
Despite being almost spoilt with talent and a recent stream of supremely talented players, Belgium just haven't made it happen on the biggest stage in World football. The Number 1 team in the world rankings in 2015, the Red Devils crashed out in the Quarter Finals following a 3-1 defeat to Wales. They met a similar fate in the 2014 World Cup, crashing out against Argentina in the Quarter Finals despite being ranked 3rd in the world.
Belgium again come into this World Cup ranked 3rd in the world, behind Germany and Brazil. Despite Radja Nainggolan's exclusion from the provisional squad, Belgium have named a strong squad for the tournament, and in a bid for realism, this is the squad which I will head into the summer with!
We are set to play two warm-up matches - against Scotland on June 6th, followed by Egypt on June 11th, before tackling our World Cup group of Panama, Tunisia and England. My intention is to play and post these games in real-time as far as possible, with updates in the form of match reports and news updates when something newsworthy happens.
This project will run for as long as I can keep Belgium in the competition (which is hopefully until the final, but let's not presume anything.) Without further ado, allow me to present Belgium's provisional World Cup squad.
Provisional 28-Man Squad
Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Matz Sels (Newcastle*), Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg)
Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Laurent Ciman (LAFC), Christian Kabasele (Watford), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Jordan Lukaku (Lazio), Thomas Meunier (PSG), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Nacer Chadli (West Brom), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Youri Tielemans (AS Monaco), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian)
Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea**), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Dries Mertens (Napoli)
*Loaned to Anderlecht
** Loaned to Borussia Dortmund
There we have it, the provisional Belgian squad for the 2018 World Cup! I have maintained it as close to the real life squad as possible, so I'm missing a few surprising names, however hopefully our preparation goes well, and we can finally make an impact on the international stage!
See more of my writing on my blog: invertedwingbacks.com where I'm currently playing with Liverpool