BRUSSELS: Belgium's Club Brugge midfielder Hans Vanaken is hoping his Champions League form will help him solidify a place in the starting lineup for the national team when they take on France in their Nations League semi-final in Turin on Thursday.
Vanaken has been in the form of his career, filling in for Kevin De Bruyne as Belgium continued their winning ways in World Cup qualification last month and then scoring for Brugge against Paris St Germain and RB Leipzig as they have emerged as surprise early leaders in their Champions League group.
Amid a galaxy of stars dotted around Europe’s top leagues, the 29-year-old is something of an oddity in Belgium's squad - home-based and a late bloomer, he has added to the array of options for coach Roberto Martinez in this week’s tournament.
“I'm in good shape right now. Since the previous international window, I’ve gained a lot of confidence after the Champions League matches with Club Brugge,” Vanaken told a news conference on Monday.
“We'll see if I get playing opportunities but in the previous games I’ve shown the coach that I’m ready. But, of course, there is a lot of quality around here,” he said of a squad that has De Bruyne back after injury.
“I’m in good form, but a starting spot against France remains to be seen.”
Vanaken, who won his first cap three years ago, was impressive last month in Belgium's 3-0 home win over Czech Republic in a World Cup qualifier before stealing the spotlight when PSG were held 1-1 at Brugge in the Champions League.
If he gets an opportunity against France, it could mean sharing the pitch again with the likes of PSG's Kylian Mbappe
"Everyone knows what qualities Mbappe has, the coach does not need my tips after the PSG match for that,” Vanaken said on Monday.