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Apoel Nicosia
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Shakhtar Donetsk
Celta Vigo
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FC Dallas
Arabe Unido
1:00 AM UTC Feb 24, 2017
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Mirallas: Best still to come for Belgium

Belgium attacker Kevin Mirallas says the squad's best days are ahead of them -- whatever they may achieve in Brazil.

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Many pundits are tipping Marc Wilmots' exciting Red Devils as outsiders for World Cup glory, but Mirallas believes they will be even stronger by the time Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup come around.

The Everton player admitted the expectation generated by the exciting talents in the Belgium squad could be a burden, telling a news conference: "Everyone is thinking that we are going to have an absolutely magical experience in Brazil. For us as players it is going to be special, but we remain very focused.

"One thing we can definitely say is that we will be stronger for Euro 2016. We will be better for this experience of the World Cup.

"But there is a huge amount of expectation on us for Brazil, and with that comes pressure. We lost two friendlies at home after we had qualified and received loads of criticism.

"A lot of the talk back home is that we've got an easy group and we'll easily progress, but we are keeping our feet very much on the ground.

"All we are concentrating on at the moment is getting out of the group, because it won't be easy. You have to remember that we are a young group, and only [defender Daniel] Van Buyten has played in a World Cup."

He urged people to "be honest and say that experience is important in these tournaments," adding that the players were determined not to get carried away by the hype surrounding them.

Belgium, whose squad boasts star names including Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Adnan Januzaj and Vincent Kompany, begin their Group H campaign against Algeria on Tuesday.

They have been boosted by confirmation that the highly-rated Wilmots has put pen to paper on a contract extension that takes him up to the 2018 World Cup.

Speaking to reporters after a training session last week, he said: "I've signed. Vital [Borkelmans, his assistant coach] and Mario [Innaurato, physical trainer] also extended their contracts a few days ago, as well as the doctor [Kris Van Crombrugge]."


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