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Is Belgium’s golden generation finally about to deliver?

This is supposed to be Belgium’s golden generation, and perhaps for the first time we are beginning to see why.

By SportBrief Reporter

Trailing 2-0 to Japan and heading out of the World Cup, the Red Devils mounted an extraordinary comeback, scoring three times in the final 21 minutes to set up a quarter-final against Brazil.

In March 2016, Belgium topped Fifa’s world rankings. Four months later they were knocked out of Euro 2016 by Wales in the quarter-finals. Yet another tournament at which the Red Devils flattered to deceive.

Two years earlier they had also gone out of the World Cup at the quarter-final stage, beaten by eventual runners-up Argentina.

But could this squad – featuring several Premier League winners – finally be about to deliver?

The 13 players who played on Monday – and became the first side since 1970 to come from 2-0 down to win a World Cup knockout match – included 32-year-old Vincent Kompany and 31-year-olds Dries Mertens and Jan Vertonghen.

Defender Kompany, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, midfielder Kevin de Bruyne and forward Eden Hazard have won the Premier League eight times between them.

Will Roberto Martinez’s big-name players go all the way in Russia?

Belgium are two wins away from a first appearance in a World Cup final – but that looked a distant dream when Takashi Inui’s 25-yard strike made it 2-0 to Japan after Genki Haraguchi had give the Asian side the lead.

Vertonghen started the comeback, Marouane Fellaini equalised, and fellow substitute Nacer Chadli hit a 94th-minute winner.

And after these exploits, former England defender Rio Ferdinand said Belgium will now take momentum into their last-eight tie against five-time world champions Brazil.

“The mentality of this team has been called into question,” said Ferdinand. “That now gives them the belief and it’s a powerful thing to have.”

Ex-England captain Alan Shearer praised Martinez – who managed Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Everton – for turning it around.

“Serious questions were being asked of Martinez and his players in that second half,” he said. “You have to do something and find a way and boy did he do it.”

Though it remains to be seen just how far this Belgium team will go, one thing for sure is that they have proved they have the depth and mentality to achieve the seemingly impossible.

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