FIFA World Cup™ finals history
Belgium were ever-present at football's top table between 1982 and 2002, but this was followed by a 12-year spell in the wilderness. They marked their return to the elite at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil by advancing to the quarter-finals, where their run was halted by eventual runners-up Argentina. This was the Belgians' second most successful campaign, having made it to the semi-finals at Mexico 1986, and they have progressed beyond the first round on five occasions in total. A founding member of FIFA, they featured in the tournament's first three editions.
With individual talents such as Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Christian Benteke, the days of Belgium relying largely on team spirit are a thing of the past. These days the Diables Rouges are stocked in every department with proven performers who have earned their stripes at the highest level. Their strike force dominated the build-up to Brazil 2014 only to be outshone by the defence, but the team as a whole served up a taste of the hunger that drives the country's new generation.
Marc Wilmots won his spurs in Brazil and is now intent on guiding his charges even further. That said, the former midfielder makes a point of tempering his ambition with a healthy dose of realism. Confidence, not complacency or arrogance; a desire to constantly improve, and a collective ethos: these are the values Wilmots preaches. All of this is allied to bags of experience: the so-called Bull of Dongelberg graced four World Cups as a player.
12 - The number of times this country with a population of just over ten million has featured at the World Cup.
Rik Coppens, Jan Ceulemans, Eric Gerets, Paul Van Himst, Enzo Scifo, Marc Degryse, Georges Grun, Jean-Marie Pfaff, Marc Wilmots, Michel Preud'homme