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European Championship

Euro 2016 Team Guide: Time for Belgium's golden generation to shine

12:49 AM GMT+8 05/06/2016
Kevin De Bruyne - Cropped
The talent within Marc Wilmots' Rode Duivels squad is undoubted, but question marks remain over whether they can deliver as a team in a major tournament

Coach: Marc Wilmots

Key player: Kevin De Bruyne

Qualifying form: W7, L1, D2

Top scorers in qualifying: Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard (both 5)

Another major tournament, another opportunity for Belgium's golden generation to prove themselves on the big stage.

Led by Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, Belgium head to Euro 2016 with a chance to finally deliver on their increasingly impressive reputation.

They lost only once as they qualified for their first European Championship since 2000, when they co-hosted the event alongside Netherlands.

The Group B winners finished two points clear of runners-up Wales, who condemned the Rode Duivels to their only defeat in 10 qualifying matches.

Coach Marc Wilmots has played a leading role in Belgium's resurgence as they prepare to embark on back-to-back major tournaments.

A former international and politician, who served a term as a senator before returning to football and eventually taking the reins of the national team, Wilmots guided Belgium to the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals - their first appearance at the showpiece since 2002.

Under the leadership of the 47-year-old, who served as an assistant to Dick Advocaat and Georges Leekens between 2009 and 2012, Belgium have become a genuine powerhouse in world football and represent a serious contender to lift the trophy in Paris on July 10.

There is quality all over the pitch, with Thibaut Courtois as goalkeeper, Romelu Lukaku up front and Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld in a defence that conceded just five goals in qualifying - although the absence of captain Vincent Kompany through injury is a serious blow.

The midfield, though, remains Belgium's biggest strength. Wilmots is able to call upon Axel Witsel, Radja Nainggolan, Marouane Fellaini and Mousa Dembele - and that is before you even consider Hazard and De Bruyne.

Hazard - the 2014-15 PFA Player of the Year - endured a season to forget at Stamford Bridge last term as Chelsea failed to defend their Premier League crown.

The former Lille attacker returns to France, where he made his name, with the opportunity to salvage something from a disappointing club campaign.

While intrigue will surround Hazard and his ability to rediscover his best form, most eyes will be on De Bruyne.

With a reputation as one of the continent's finest playmakers, adept on the wing or behind the strikers, De Bruyne quickly justified his hefty price tag at Manchester City, while leading Belgium to a near-flawless qualifying campaign.

Experience at major tournaments may be this squad's Achilles heel, but as long as De Bruyne and Hazard are at Wilmots' disposal, the 1980 European Championship runners-up have the chance to go one step further.