Romelu Lukaku, who is on loan at Inter Milan from Chelsea, has been chosen for Belgium’s World Cup squad despite not being fully fit.
Injuries mean that the striker has only played four times in Serie A this season.
Manager Roberto Martinez announced his squad on November 10.
Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard made the cut, despite the latter not playing in La Liga since September.
There is a strong Premier League contingent, with Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Aston Villa’s Leander Dendoncker and Brighton’s Leandro Trossard all in the squad. Leicester trio Wout Faes, Timothy Castagne and Youri Tielemans are included, as are former Tottenham duo Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.
Belgium World Cup 2022 squad
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Koen Casteels
Defenders: Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Wout Faes, Arthur Theate, Zeno Debast, Thomas Meunier, Timothy Castagne
Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, Youri Tielemans, Amadou Onana, Axel Witsel, Hans Vanaken, Leander Dendoncker, Yannick Carrasco, Thorgan Hazard
Forwards: Eden Hazard, Charles De Ketelaere, Leandro Trossard, Dries Mertens, Jeremy Doku, Romelu Lukaku, Michy Batshuayi, Lois Openda
Who are likely to be the star names in the squad?
Belgium’s stars include Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard, but wait with bated breath to see if their star striker Romelu Lukaku will regain full form and fitness ahead of landing in Qatar.
Lukaku, who is on loan from Chelsea at Inter Milan, has been injured since mid-September, and is only beginning to return to the bench in Serie A. Martinez described the striker as one of his “irreplaceable players”, alongside De Bruyne and Courtois.
“You cannot replace them one on one,” he added. “If they don’t play, we have to play in a different way.”
What has Belgium’s form been like?
Belgium will head into the World Cup off the back of a defeat, losing 1-0 to the Netherlands in their final Nations League match in September. Three days earlier Kevin De Bruyne had starred in a 2-1 win over Wales.
Broader recent results will nevertheless certainly leave them confident of progressing from the group stage at World Cup 2022 in Qatar, with Croatia their biggest threat in Group F. The Fifa world rankings have Belgium at No 2.
The Belgians topped their qualifying group with eight victories and two draws, including an 8-0 thrashing of Belarus. Romelu Lukaku finished top scorer for his country in qualifying with five goals.
Their recent results mean they will head into the tournament as the second-ranked team behind top-ranked Brazil.
Roberto Martinez was appointed coach of the Belgium national team in August 2016. Since then he has led them to their highest ever World Cup finish and guided them to the top of the Fifa world rankings where they stayed between September 2018 and February 2021. At Euro 2020 Belgium were knocked out by eventual winners Italy in the quarter-finals.
Martinez is assisted by, among others, two Arsenal luminaries. Thierry Henry was reappointed in the summer of 2021 following an earlier stint in the coaching line-up, and Thomas Vermaelen, who played for Belgium until the end of his country’s Euros 2020 campaign, and retired from football in January of this year.
What are Belgium’s fixtures?
What is Belgium’s World Cup record?
Belgium’s best World Cup finish came in the last edition of the tournament. They secured third place at Russia 2018 after beating England in the play-off, bettering their previous highest finish of fourth in 1986. Belgium first qualified for the tournament in 1930 and will compete in it for the 14th time this winter.
Argentina | Australia | Belgium | Brazil | Cameroon | Canada | Costa Rica | Croatia | Denmark | Ecuador | England | France | Germany | Ghana | Iran | Japan | Mexico | Morocco | Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Senegal | Serbia | South Korea | Spain | Switzerland | Tunisia | Uruguay | USA | Wales
Lukaku to claim the Golden Boot? Find the latest top scorer odds here
Belgium are currently a best price of 18/1 to win World Cup 2022.
Other leading contenders…
Information correct as of November 13