- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

BRUSSELS (AP) - With only a few notable exceptions, Belgium has often been a team bigger than the sum of its players.

This time, after an absence of 12 years, the Belgians are back at the World Cup with several players known around the world, including Vincent Kompany and Eden Hazard.

Just about the entire team plays abroad, and many in the biggest leagues, giving the Belgians a hope they haven’t had since reaching the semifinals in 1986.

Here are five players to watch:



If anyone epitomizes the revival of Belgian football, it is central defender Vincent Kompany.

Kompany was a prodigy at 17 with Anderlecht, and in 2012 he was the rock on which Manchester City built its first Premier League title in 44 years.

Now 28, he continues to be the anchor for one of the richest teams in one of the world’s toughest leagues after he captained City to a second title in three years.

Beyond his positioning and physical prowess, Kompany is best known for his leadership qualities, earning him the undisputed captaincy of the Belgian national team.



If Vincent Kompany is dependency personified, Eden Hazard is counted on for creativity. And if he extends the way he has been playing for Chelsea on the World Cup stage in Brazil, he could well become one of the marquee players of the tournament.

Hazard developed his skills for Lille in the French league, and his speed, agility, passing precision and tactical insight turned him into the best player of that league before Chelsea lured him to London.


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