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2015 was a memorable year for the Belgium national team as they secured a place in the 2016 European Championship and hit top spot in the FIFA rankings for the first time ever.

However, Marc Wilmots’ side still have plenty to prove. Sitting at the top of the FIFA rankings means nothing without a major piece of silverware in this collection, and the Belgians failed to make much of an impression at the 2014 World Cup despite arriving in Brazil as one of the dark horses.

They will get another chance to make an impact on the big stage when they head to France for Euro 2016 next summer, but the bookies are not expecting glory for Wilmots and his side. They are 11/10 outsiders at bet365, behind Germany, France and Spain, while the firm is 6/1 about the Belgians reaching the final.

Belgium Fixtures

Belgium began their campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Italy on Monday 13th June. They will return to action in five days time to take on the Republic of Ireland, on Saturday, June 18, and they will complete their group campaign on Wednesday, June 22 when Sweden provide the opposition for Wilmots’ boys.

GROUP E FIXTURES

Full fixtures dates and kick-off times for all Group E matches.

See all BELGIUM MATCHES

Top 3 Belgium Bets

1) bet365 is Even money about Belgium finishing top of Group E and I like their chances. 

The Republic of Ireland can be pretty much written off in this group and aside from Zlatan Ibrahimovic this Sweden team does not boast the talent needed to advance. Italy are the only real threat to Belgium’s chances of winning the group and the Azzurri have hardly been great during group stages, falling at the first hurdle at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. 

2) With that being said, I also like the look of SkyBet’s 4/1 on Belgium to win the group and the Republic of Ireland to finish second. 

3) Finally, De Bruyne and Hazard led the way for Belgium with five goals apiece during qualifying and I am certainly tempted by BetVictor’s 9/2 about the Manchester City forward being his nation’s top goalscorer when the tournament over.

Belgium Squad

Each team must confirm a 23-man squad, featuring three goalkeepers, at least 10 days before the opening match of the tournament on June 10.

Find out who will be starting for Belgium in the Euro 2016 here.

Key Players

Kevin De Bruyne has been making an impression for Manchester City in the Premier League and the Belgian ace will be a key player for the national team at Euro 2016. He scored five times during qualifying and will pose a constant threat to opposition defences.

At the other end of the field another City man, Vincent Kompany, will have a big role to play, while fans of the English top flight will also be very familiar with the likes of Eden Hazard and Marouane Fellaini. While there have been question marks over their club form, these two men continue to be key figures for the national team.

Dries Mertens helped himself to a few goals on the road to the Euros and the Napoli winger will be looking to get among the goals and create chances for his team-mates, while Everton striker Romelu Lukaku will desperately try to transfer his club form to the international stage having managed just one goal for the national team since the 2014 World Cup.

How Belgium Qualified for 2016

Belgium were unable to match their unbeaten World Cup qualifying campaign as they booked their place in France, but they did finish top of Group B despite their failure to beat Wales who finished second.

The Belgians kicked off their campaign with a 6-0 battering of Andorra that saw Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens both score twice, but the struggled to build on that result as a goalless draw in Bosnia was followed up by a disappointing home draw with the Welsh.

Belgium got back on track as Marouane Fellaini bagged a brace in a 5-0 rout of Cyprus, and the Manchester United man was on target again as they scraped a 1-0 victory over Israel in Jerusalem.

However, just as they appeared to be gaining some momentum Wilmots’ team suffered a setback as they suffered their first competitive defeat since their World Cup quarter-final defeat at the hands of 

Argentina back in July 2014. Gareth Bale scored the only goal of the game as Wales won 1-0 to take control of Group B, but the Belgians showed their fighting spirit in response to that loss.

They fought back from a goal down to beat Bosnia thanks to goals from Fellaini, De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, and the latter was on target once again as they made it back-to-back victories with a 1-0 win in Cyprus.

A 4-1 win over Andorra followed as they closed in on a place in Euro 2016, and they wrapped up top spot in the group on the final night Mertens, De Bruyne and Hazard all found the back of the net in a 3-1 home victory against Israel.

History in the Tournament

How have Belgium fared at the European Championships? When the Belgians step out onto the field it will be their first appearance in a European Championships for 16 years.

The last time they appeared in this tournament they exited at the group stage. Belgium made a promising start as they beat Sweden 2-1 in their group opener, but they were unable to build on those three points as defeats to Italy and Turkey saw them finish third in the group.

Their best performance in the Euros came back in 1980 when they reached the final of the tournament in Italy. Draws against England and Italy sandwiched a win over Spain, and those four points were enough to see them into the final where they met West Germany. A Rene Vandereycken penalty 15 minutes from time hauled Belgium level in that final, but Horst Hrubesch scored his second goal of the game with just two minutes remaining the break Belgian hearts.

And finally... fun fact about this team

Belgium became only the eighth national team to occupy the number one spot in the FIFA world rankings since the system was introduced back in December 1992.

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