THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

wsc328 previewWhat are the expectations for the team?
Most fans feel that the team should get through the group stage but would probably then meet Germany or Portugal. Unlike the Dutch, Belgians are notoriously modest in their ambitions. There is no great expectation that the team will reach the last eight.

Is the coach popular?
As he's taking Belgium to their first major tournament since 2002, Marc Wilmots is very popular across the country – he also speaks all three native languages, including German. He's got a few medals and the players respect him; in return, he's loyal to the squad who got him to Brazil.

Are there any players who have appeared in TV commercials or other advertising?
The Belgian FA appears to be clamping down on extraneous money-making, with the team chef recently sacked for planning a book about the squad's eating habits. Romelu Lukaku did a famous TV commercial for a chocolate bar – Kinder Bueno – when he was a 17-year-old hopeful at Anderlecht. More recently, Eden Hazard has been a poster boy for Nike (and featured in a Specsavers ad last year when he kicked the Swansea ballboy instead of the ball in the League Cup semi-final).

Which players are good interviewees and who are 
the worst?
Vincent Kompany has been an impressive interviewee since he was a teenager at Anderlecht. He even got involved in politics after one Belgian victory, arguing – much to the displeasure of the Flemish separatist party Vlaams Belang – that Belgium was better off united. Chelsea's loanee Thibaut Courtois is one of the easiest to talk to. As for the worst, Marouane Fellaini never appears comfortable in front of the cameras and when he does speak, it's in very short sentences.

Are there any players with unusual hobbies or business interests?
It's well known that Kevin De Bruyne loves a round of golf. As for business interests, look no further than Kompany. He's invested in a football club (BX Brussels) where he hopes to promote young talent. He's got his own limo-service – Elite Limousines VIP Protection – and a toe in the music business via his management company, BonkaCircus. He's also an ambassador for SOS Children's Villages and has his own charity for underprivileged children VICA in one of the poorer areas of Brussels, where he was born.   

Will there be any rehearsed goal celebrations?
It'll probably just be a thumbs-up to the coach.

What will the media coverage be like?
The Belgium team is incredibly popular at the moment – all recent matches have sold out within hours. The media coverage will be big with all the major stations from both sides of the language divide – RTBF, RTL, VTM, Canvas – making the trip. There will be a "Road to Rio" documentary on Flemish TV and Kompany's BonkaCircus are said to be involved in a similar venture. As for ex-players, Marc Degryse, Philippe Albert and Franky van der Elst have all been in front of the cameras in recent months and are likely to be among the luminaries in business class around the middle of June.

Will there be many fans travelling to the finals?
It's expensive for many fans with prices around €3,500 (£2,880) for flights, the three games and a hotel. Even so, the Belgian FA expect about 10,000 fans to make the trip. Belgian singer Stromae has recorded the official World Cup song in French, which caused some controversy as he's Flemish. With the majority of Belgian travelling fans being Dutch-speaking, it's not obvious that the official song will be a hit. John Chapman & Sven Claes

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