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World Cup A to Z

B IS FOR BELGIUM

B IS FOR BELGIUM

NO European team have ever won a World Cup on South American soil but this year a contender is emerging to defy that weary old claim about nothing interesting ever coming from Belgium.

Scottish fans may need little introduction to Marc Wilmots' side after they coasted unbeaten through our qualifying group, but the wider world may just wake up to how good they are this summer.

From Atletico Madrid star Thibaut Courtois in goal, Vincent Kompany at the back, Premiership player of the season contender Eden Hazard providing the ammunition and Christian Benteke and Romelu Lukaku vying for the striking role, Belgium have stumbled upon a golden generation of incredible strength and variety.

And on the face of it, they have landed a manageable section, with Group H containing Algeria, Russia and South Korea.

Belgium have an excellent World Cup record and Wilmots is a man with immense pedigree, having appeared in a joint record four finals, scoring five goals in the process. They reached six successive World Cups from 1982 to 2002, and finished fourth in Mexico 1986.

The side will be based in the town of Mogi das Cruzes, just outside Sao Paolo, during the competition, but they will take themselves away from the hype in the lead-up to the tournament.

After a week training in Genk, and a friendly against Luxembourg on May 26, they move to Sweden, who they will play in a Stockholm friendly on June 1.

There follows a training camp at the Belgian resort of Knokke-Heist and a final friendly with Tunisia in Brussels on June 6.

"Stockholm is ideal because of the climate, where the average temperature will be 22 degrees, which is similar to the temp-eratures we will have in Sao Paulo," said Wilmots.

Stewart Fisher

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Football

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