The bronze medals from the previous championship in Russia are still below expectations in the Arabian Peninsula. In the opening match against the Canadians they didn’t wow the fans, but won 1:0, in the second appearance they lost against the Moroccans (0:2). In their final match in Group F, they must beat the Croatians if they are to progress to the top sixteen of the tournament.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said that at the training base in the city of Al Rayyan, Belgian players communicated openly with each other. Together with captain Eden Hazard, they did not comment on reports of an alleged physical conflict between some of the team’s players that appeared in the media.
“I don’t think there are any problems, but it’s always nice to have a meeting together so that everyone can share their thoughts,” Povedal Courtois. “That’s how everything will work out and I think the best thing we can do is for each of us to be honest because we have to fight for each other on the pitch. So being honest is the most important thing.” added the Spanish Real Madrid goalkeeper.
Defender Jan Vertonghen and midfielder Kevin De Bruyne were expected to be involved in the alleged conflict. The British newspaper The Guardian asked the Manchester City midfielder ahead of the tournament if Belgium could win the World Cup, to which he replied: “Absolutely not, we are too old.”
When Vertonghen was asked by reporters after the loss to Morocco what was the reason for the loss, he replied irritably. “Where did the mistake happen? We’re probably attacking badly because we’re too old, so that must be it, right?” said the 35-year-old Vertonghen, apparently referring to the statement by De Bruyne, who is four years younger.
Eden Hazard tried to “sweep it all under the rug” when he said: “Sometimes in an interview you say funny things that you don’t really mean. I think he just wanted to say that we are older than four years ago and he is right, we are older. Everyone is older. The defenders, us, the midfielders. Thibaut more than four years ago, it’s true. I think Kevin is the first to have faith in this team, otherwise he wouldn’t be here.” Danger declared.
He also urged his side to play fearlessly against runners-up world champions Croatia. “It could be our last game, so we have to play with the will to win. If all 11 of us take the field as a team, we could beat Croatia. I know it will be difficult because every game in this World Cup is difficult, but we make it we will do it, with the team we have we can do it”. Danger declared.