Since returning to Stamford Bridge from a loan spell in Germany, Kevin De Bruyne has enjoyed a promising start to his Chelsea career, but his immediate focus now rests with the Belgium national side as they attempt to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
De Bruyne, who signed for the Blues in January 2012 before embarking on loan spells with his former club Genk and Werder Bremen, has started two of our three Premier League matches, including the 0-0 draw away at Manchester United.
Belgium, who play Scotland tonight, are three points clear of Croatia at the top of qualifying Group A with only three matches of the campaign remaining, and De Bruyne is well aware of the importance of securing a positive result at Hampden Park.
‘It’s a big game,’ he tells the official Chelsea website. ‘It’s not going to be easy but international games never are.
‘We are in a good position and if we win we will have a great chance of qualification. We then play Croatia away, which will probably be a decisive game, but if we win against Scotland we will still be a minimum of three points ahead as Croatia play Serbia. There is a big rivalry between those two countries so we’ll see what happens.
‘We’ve won six games out of seven and we’ve only conceded two goals. We’ve been playing well so we’re feeling very confident.’
Should Marc Wilmots’s side secure their place at the tournament in Brazil, it would mark their first appearance at the World Cup since 2002, when they were eliminated at the first knockout stage by eventual winners Brazil.
The current side, however, which, along with De Bruyne, contains Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut Courtois, plus the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Christian Benteke, have their supporters dreaming of South America next summer.
‘It would be very special,’ he says. ‘At the moment in Belgium the country has gone a bit crazy. Tickets for the games are selling out in two minutes and it’s not normally like that. We are happy, though, that it’s like this and not the other way.’
For the group as a whole, it’s been an impressive qualifying campaign, with only two points dropped thus far. On a personal note, it’s been equally satisfying for De Bruyne. After coming off the bench in the opening two games, he started – and scored – in the 3-0 away win in Serbia, and since then has gone from strength to strength.
‘It’s been very good for me,’ he says. ‘Before, I’d only played two or three games, but the first two matches of this campaign I was on the bench, and I came on and did quite well, so since then I’ve been in the team.
‘I’ve scored three goals and have three assists so I’m very happy with how it’s gone so far.’