(Reuters) – Following is a statbox on Belgium at the World Cup.

FIFA Ranking: 2

Odds: 12-1

Previous tournaments:

Belgium have qualified for eight of the last 10 World Cup tournaments, missing out in 2006 and 2010, and were one of four European nations at the very first in Uruguay in 1930. Their best finish is a bronze medal in 2018 when they beat England to third, while their only other semi-final appearance was in Mexico in 1986 when they lost to Diego Maradona’s Argentina and finished fourth. They have been to 13 World Cups in all.

How they qualified:

They went unbeaten in their eight qualifiers, winning six of them, and had little trouble topping a group that also contained Wales, Czech Republic, Estonia and Belarus. They scored 25 goals, more than three per game, and conceded six with a haul of 20 points that was five more than the second-placed Welsh. They dropped points only in Cardiff and Prague.

Form guide:

Home and away losses to Netherlands, including a 4-1 defeat in Brussels, made for a disappointing recent Nations League campaign, but Belgium have proved they have goals in them. Their 1-0 defeat in Amsterdam was the first time in 50 matches they had failed to score, dating back to a loss by the same margin to France at the 2018 World Cup. Keeping clean sheets has been a issue against more fancied teams and that could be an Achilles heel later in the tournament in Qatar. Since the start of October 2021, Belgium have won five of their 12 internationals, losing four and with three draws. The highlight was a 6-1 home win over Poland in June.

(Reporting by Nick Said; editing by Clare Fallon)

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