Euro 2024 | Belgium – Romania | “A permanent laboratory”: Belgium, already in the red

Euro 2024 | Belgium – Romania | “A permanent laboratory”: Belgium, already in the red
Euro 2024 | Belgium – Romania | “A permanent laboratory”: Belgium, already in the red

This day of relaxation with families, invited to spend a few hours at the Schlosshotel Monrepos in Ludwigsburg, where the Red Devils have taken up residence for the final phase of Euro 2024, did the Belgians good. The day after their defeat against Slovakia, the players were able – a little – to think about something other than this failed start. “It was good for everyone”, confirms Franky Vercauteren. The former international midfielder (63 caps between 1977 and 1988), notably with Anderlecht and Nantes and now national technical director, was affected by this failure, like the entire delegation. “We are disappointed, that’s normal, but not dejected. The defeat hurts, but there was not only negative in this match, we had chances, there were good sequences.”

Jbari: “With Tedesco, selection is a permanent laboratory”

The Red Devils had four days to get their heads back on track before meeting a perfectly launched Romanian selection in Cologne on Saturday (9 p.m.) after their resounding success against Ukraine (3-0, June 17). . For the semi-finalists of the 2018 World Cup, the equation is simple: win, or at least not lose, to maintain their chance of qualifying for the round of 16.

“For months, I have been hearing that Belgium can aim for the quarter-finals, and even more. Personally, I am not surprised by this defeat against Slovakia.”intervenes the former Belgian international Nordin Jbari (2 selections in 1996 and 1997) and now consultant for various media, before directly attacking Domenico Tedesco, the Italian-German coach.

Tedesco Domenico during Belgium – Slovakia at Euro 2024

Credit: Getty Images

The former striker is indeed not kind to the technician. “I have the impression that the selection is a permanent laboratory, that he is still looking for the right formula and doing tests. I did not understand why he moved Jérémy Doku to the right and Yannick Carrasco in a defensive role which is not his And why he fielded two recuperators, Orel Mangala and Amadou Onana, when in my opinion it would be more logical to put only one and associate him with a more senior player. creative, like Youri Tielemans, in order to better feed Kevin De Bruyne.”

Changes expected against Romania

Against the Romanians, Domenico Tedesco could make some changes, a subject on which Franky Vercauteren does not wish to dwell too much. “There are discussions, reflections, to improve what did not work well on Monday, after taking stock of the first match. The objective is to react to win this match.” And this will not be easy against an opponent renowned for its defensive solidity (5 goals conceded during qualifying), but whose effectiveness against Ukraine was surprising, even though it had completed its preparation with two hardly exciting draws ( 0-0) against Bulgaria and Lichtenstein on June 4 and 8.

The Belgians will therefore have to succeed on Saturday where they failed against Slovakia. Romelu Lukaku, clumsy at first, unlucky after his two goals were canceled following the intervention of the VAR, will inevitably be one of the solutions to the problem posed by this inaugural hiccup. “I don’t expect Romania to just defend, but Belgium will have to take risks and be more creative and more efficient”argues Tom Saintfiet, the former Gambia coach now stationed in the Philippines. “Lukaku had a complicated match, but we know his finishing qualities. Personally, I think that players like Tielemans or Charles de Ketelaere could add something to the team.”

Romelu Lukaku

Credit: Getty Images

Saintfiet regrets the absence of Courtois

The Flemish also regrets that Domenico Tedesco did without Thibaut Courtois for this German Euro, while the Red Devils goalkeeper, at odds with his coach, returned at the end of the season in the Real Madrid goal, after a knee injury on March 19, notably to win the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund on June 1 at Wembley (2-0). “I think that when you have the best goalkeeper in the world, it is better to have him with you…” : Nordin Jbari, in the less polished style that characterizes him, does not understand Tedesco’s inflexibility. “That he and Courtois don’t get along, ok. But isn’t it the role of a coach to think above all about the team, and to try to calm things down for the good of the team?”

The absence of Courtois, who consoles himself by spending his holidays on a yacht off the Sardinian coast, comes in a particular period for a selection which has seen several of its historic executives (Eden Hazard, Toby Alderweireld) retire definitively or international, and others, such as Dries Mertens in particular, are no longer part of Tedesco’s plans. “There are still some veterans, like De Bryune, Verthongen, Meunier, Lukaku, but part of the golden generation is no longer there, players have arrived and I feel that in Belgium, there are fewer expectations around the team, which is not one of the favorites, we see fewer red jerseys in the streets”observe Tom Saintfiet.

More “not necessarily less pressure, which remains high”, underlines Franky Vercauteren. After all, as the former Anderlecht player recalls, “Belgium is not the first team to lose its first match in a major competition and to have a good run behind.” The history of football is indeed full of examples…

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