Belgium's Roberto Martinez 'delighted' with tougher path to World Cup final

30 June, 2018, 18:32 | Author: Judy Cobb

There is a big difference as a player going home knowing you can say that.

I said before the game that I didn't agree with making so many changes even despite the reports that Belgium were going to do so as well. "And whoever we play, in a one-off game, is capable of beating us".

"His priority, like ours, is the team and he recognised what we were trying to do".

Belgium has won Group G at the World Cup after defeating England 1-0 on a lovely goal from Adnan Januzaj.

Belgium's next game will be against Japan, a team which Martinez described to be very "dynamic, well organized, strong and technical". Nothing presumptuous, of course, but when you have meticulously planned every other element of world football domination, you might as well give the authorities prior notice that they may need to shut some roads. But the Leicester City defender, who was out of the starting XI against the Belgians, has backed Southgate's choice to make eight changes to the team that thrashed Panama the previous game.

The game started with a rather boring first half and England fans even started entertaining themselves by chanting "Are you watching Germany" - ouch.

"Making predictions in the World Cup can be a little bit hard", Martinez said, insisting Belgium would concentrate on their meeting with Japan in Rostov-on-Don. "It was disappointing to lose the game, but we have lost nothing".

Southgate stuck with Jordan Pickford, who had barely made a save in the previous two matches yet conceded twice, in goal but he was not convincing.

Both managers opted to rest a number of their stars for the final group match, having made between them no fewer than 17 changes from last time out, with both already secured passage into the round of 16. We're looking forward to the atmosphere [at the game].

"The victory is a outcome of a very good performance", he said.

British TV pundits were certain in their post-game assessments that the Three Lions' path to the semifinals is easier than the one Belgium received for winning the group. In truth, most of the starters are entrenched, but Danny Rose, Eric Dier - captain for the night - and Rashford were among those who might have seen an opportunity. Beat Colombia, however, and you'd encounter either Sweden or Switzerland and then likely a struggling Spain or perhaps Croatia - or even Russian Federation or Denmark. "He totally understood, 100% team first".

There's something to be said for form and belief and momentum - all things Colombia established following back-to-back clean sheet wins over Poland and a Senegalese team that's among the scrappiest in the tournament. At Elland Road on June 7, after they took their time breaking down Costa Rica, Southgate said he had encouraged his players to talk about their lives and the challenges they had faced. I know in some quarters that will be criticised but I am entirely comfortable with that. "We saw that in the Euros two years ago".


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