BRUSSELS (AP) -It is tough for a Belgian to put a foot wrong in the Premier League these days.
Vincent Kompany led the way, and last season he captained Manchester City to its first league title in 44 years with the team playing some thrilling football.
Early in this season, the talk surrounds Eden Hazard, a cunning playmaker who has already been decisive on several occasions for Champions League holder Chelsea after only three Premier League games.
Together with Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen and Tottenham midfielder Moussa Dembele among others earning their money in the world's richest league, they are planning to take Belgium to its first World Cup in 12 years.
The Red Devils beat Wales on Friday and have a crucial home game against Croatia in Group A on Tuesday.
After years of futility on the international stage, Belgium looks ready to rise again, much like in the 1980s when it reached the final of the 1980 European Championship and the semifinals of the 1986 World Cup.
Having players in the Premier League could well be what is needed to turn an average team into a qualifier for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
`'Surely, there is a difference. It moves a bit faster," said Hazard, who previously played for Lille and won the award for best player in the French League.
But he added: `'It is more outside of that. The stadiums, the atmosphere. It is all outside of football that also changes."
One key issue is the relentless pressure and the need to deal with it.
`'I am at one of the best clubs in the world. You always have to win, you always have to play well," he said. "Next weekend often is a game against a club like Arsenal or Manchester United, or AC Milan or Bayern Munich could be waiting in midweek.
Hazard has immediately met the expectations in England with great play. Belgian fans now obviously demand nothing less, and have been disappointed that Hazard has not matched his form for club with country.
A reported ?40 million transfer fee also adds weight, he said.
When asked if he could do better, he said: `'Yes, really. Since it is me. Since it is 40 million, people talk a lot. I understand."
Belgium has several players whose transfer fees are reported to run into the tens of millions. Yet compare it to their FIFA ranking, and questions pop up.
After beating the Netherlands in a friendly and several good results, the team's ranking rose from 53rd to 40th. Other teams ranked in the 40s include Wales, Scotland and Serbia.
Only one team advances automatically in each group, making Tuesday's game at the sold-out 50,000 King Baudouin stadium crucial.
Hazard believes those Belgians playing in the Premier League can step up to the challenge.
`'People like Moussa have adapted very well," he said of Dembele, who moved to Tottenham from Fulham and immediately scored a fine goal on debut.
Little wonder the `'made in Belgium" label is catching on. In the extended Belgian squad, 10 are playing the Premier League or are owned by one of the clubs.
One of the last to make it to England was Christian Benteke, the Racing Genk striker who joined Aston Villa. Hardly a household name, but at 21 he seized his opportunity with both hands.
In Belgium, he was sometimes considered too nice a guy on the pitch, not strong enough in challenges. The Premier League should remedy that if he is to survive.
`'That is exactly that is why I wanted to go there," Benteke said. `'There is a lot of intensity. They are big and strong. It was the only way to grow up in my career - to go there."