Premier League's last option to win Euro 2016 is Belgium

After England's embarrassing exit against Iceland, Marc Wilmots' men and quarter-final opponents Wales are the only two teams with players primarily based in the UK

01.07.2016 10:55:15

It is a perennial debate: which is the best league in Europe? Recent results in continental competition suggest La Liga is way out in front, while the Premier League has been dubbed as overrated once again following England's calamitous exit from Euro 2016. And there is now only one team that can save its reputation: Belgium. Spanish sides have dominated in European club football, with Sevilla winning the last three Europa Leagues and Real Madrid and Barcelona between them claiming the last three Champions League crowns. In total, 47 of the last 51 ties involving teams from La Liga and elsewhere have been won by the Spanish representatives.  So even though Spain may have left this tournament early, their league still leads they way. Not least because most of the world's finest footballers - Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Gareth Bale, Sergio Busquets, Antoine Griezmann and Luka Modric among them - all ply their trade in the Primera Division.  At Euro 2016, Dmitri Payet and N'Golo Kante (both based in the Premier League) have made their mark for France, but the majority of the top performers come from the Spanish and Italian leagues. Belgium, though, could change that. Marc Wilmots' squad is made up of 11 players currently in England: Chelsea's Eden Hazard and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, Tottenham trio Toby Alderweireld, Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen, Liverpool three Christian Benteke, Divock Origi and Simon Mignolet, Everton's Romelu Lukaku, Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne and Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini. On top of that, Marseille forward Michy Batshuayi is on the verge of signing for Chelsea as well, which would mean over half of Belgium's roster is made of Premier League players. Ironically, Belgium now face the other team in this tournament comprised mainly of English-based players: Wales. Because although Real Madrid's Gareth Bale is their star man, the vast majority of the players in Chris Coleman's squad turn out for teams in the Premier League. Wales have come further than many expected already, but they will be hopeful of beaing Belgium and advancing to the last four -  a result that would be their best ever after their 1958 generation reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup before losing to eventual winners Brazil. For Belgium, meanwhile, this is a chance to show they can cut it on the biggest stage of all after the disappointment of losing to Argentina at the 2014 World Cup. Back then, there was the sensation that more could have been done to stay in the competition and, as the side ranked second in the world this time around, Wilmots' men need to go all the way to the final and maybe even win the tournament altogether to cement their reputation - and also to save that of the Premier League at Euro 2016 this month.

Category : Belgium Premier League Euro 2016