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szdaily -> Sports -> 
EPL makes the biggest impact in World Cup
    2018-07-11  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

BELGIUM may go on to win the World Cup, but the biggest winner of the 2018 World Cup is England — more accurately, the English Premier League (EPL).

Nine of the 11 starters Belgium picked out to beat Brazil in the quarterfinals ply their trade in the Premier League, and Belgium’s squad is, in many ways, a Premier League All-Star team. The front line picked to face Brazil by Belgium boss Roberto Martinez, who made his bones as an England top-flight manager, was stacked with Premier League stars: Manchester United’s US$100 million striker Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea’s three-time Player of the Year Eden Hazard and the Premier League’s 2018 Playmaker of the Year Kevin De Bruyne.

In addition, Belgium’s back line was stacked with the Tottenham defensive duo of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, along with arguably the best Premier League central defender of the past decade in Vincent Kompany. Kompany arrived in England in 2008, and the Anderlecht product helped the Citizens to three Premier League titles — eclipsing the club’s previous two First Division titles claimed in 1937 and 1968.

To say that the Red Devils have been an advertisement for the Premier League is an understatement.

One should also take a moment to mention Belgium’s Man of the Match against Brazil, Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois. Without Courtois, Belgium likely doesn’t hold on to beat Brazil in 90 minutes, as the 26-year-old shot-stopper stood figuratively and literally head and shoulders above the competition. Regularly included in the list of top-three goalkeepers on the planet, Courtois is the only member of that slightly amorphous list still standing at the semifinal stage of the World Cup.

Add in the catalysts for the comeback against Japan in the Round of 16, Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli. Fellaini has been an important player at Manchester United under multiple mangers, who have looked to the loud-haired former Everton midfielder to get in the box and grab a necessary goal. Chadli, who scored the winner against Japan, broke West Bromwich Albion’s club record upon joining from Tottenham Hotspur.

When the quarterfinal against Brazil arrived, both Fellaini and Chadli started for Belgium.

From the top of the line to the back line to the manager on the sideline, Belgium is flying the Premier League flag high and proud. A Belgian victory in the World Cup final at the Luzhniki Stadium would serve as a particularly persuasive infomercial, especially if that victory came against England.(SD-Agencies)

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