World ranking: 2

Best European Championship finish: Runners-up - 1980

How they qualified: Belgium won seven and lost only one of their 12 qualifiers en route to topping Group B ahead of Wales and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Fixtures: Group E - Italy (13 June), Republic of Ireland (18 June), Sweden (22 June)

Squad -

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Jean-Francois Gillet, Simon Mignolet

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld, Laurent Ciman, Jason Denayer, Christian Kabasele, Jordan Lukaku, Thomas Meunier, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen

Midfielders: Marouane Fellaini, Radja Nainggolan, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Mousa Dembele

Strikers: Michy Batshuayi, Christian Benteke, Yannick Carrasco, Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens, Divock Origi

Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard has endured a poor domestic campaign for Chelsea but will lead Belgium at Euro 2016 Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Expectations: As England rather painfully discovered during the opening decade of the 21st century with the likes of David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard all at their respective peaks, possessing a so-called "Golden Generation" of national talent is certainly no guarantee of success. This is a trend that a gloriously talented Belgium side will hope to buck as they approach only their second major tournament since 2002 and a first European Championships for 16 years.

The Red Devils, who reached the quarter-finals of the last World Cup before succumbing to an early Gonzalo Higuain winner in Brasilia, claimed top spot in Fifa's global rankings for five months before being leapfrogged by Argentina in April but have yet to really justify that lofty billing. Marc Wilmots has selected a Premier League-heavy squad rich with attacking flair but noticeably short on conventional full-backs. The absence of regular captain Vincent Kompany due to a groin injury sustained during Manchester City's Champions League semi-final defeat to Real Madrid will also be keenly felt, although it seems that Tottenham Hotspur duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen will remain as full-backs despite forming the best central defensive partnership in England this season.

Manager: Marc Wilmots - Having served as an assistant to predecessors Dick Advocaat and Georges Leekens after joining the international set-up back in 2009, Wilmots was appointed as manager of his native country three years later following a brief period as caretaker boss.

Marc Wilmots
Marc Wilmots does not consider Belgium among the favourites for glory in France VIRGINIE LEFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

The 47-year-old, winner of 70 caps during his playing career as a midfielder for Standard Liege, Bordeaux and Schalke, subsequently ended Belgium's 12-year World Cup exile in Brazil and swiftly penned a long-term contract extension. Despite the hype that has built around his team over recent years, Wilmots insists they remain "outsiders" to win the Euros in neighbouring France.

Prediction: Quarter-finals - If stand-in skipper Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and co are able to play to their full potential, then Belgium should not be discounted as potential champions. Only an underwhelming Italy should pose any real threat in the group stage, although question marks remain over an ability to outmanoeuvre the real heavyweights.