International football is back and the first steps towards the 2020 European Championship are set to be taken.
Belgium, fresh off their best ever showing at a World Cup, will begin their journey with games against Russia and Cyprus. Head coach Roberto Martínez named a 28-man team, including two Chelsea players, national team captain Eden Hazard and social media captain Michy Batshuayi, who’s currently on loan at Crystal Palace.
In an alternate universe, Chelsea’s representation would befar more extensive. Former players Thibaut Courtois, Romelu Lukaku, and Thorgan Hazard have also been called up (while Kevin De Bruyne is injured and thus misses out).
The full Belgium national team squad is as follows:
GOALKEEPERS: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Matz Sels (Strasbourg);
DEFENDERS: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur), Thomas Meunier (PSG), Timothy Castagne (Atalanta), Jason Denayer (Lyon), Brandon Mechele (Club Bruges);
MIDFIELDERS: Mousa Dembele (Guangzhou R&F), Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Nacer Chadli (Monaco), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Leander Dendoncker (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Dennis Praet (Sampdoria), Hans Vanaken (Club Bruges);
FORWARDS: Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace, on loan from Chelsea), Divock Origi (Liverpool), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Leandro Trossard (Genk), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace).
Batshuayi may be a bit of a surprise inclusion, given that he’s scored just 5 goals in 30 appearances for Valencia and Crystal Palace combined (2-in-6 for Palace alone), but he’s scored 4 goals in his last 4 matches for the national team.
Good luck to both him and Eden.