World Cup 2018 - Roberto Martinez confides, “We lacked magic in front of their goal”

Wednesday, 11 July 2018 16:01
Martinez's view is that Belgium have acquitted themselves well, fighting hard every step of the way. Martinez's view is that Belgium have acquitted themselves well, fighting hard every step of the way. © Belga
“The disappointment is huge,” acknowledged on Tuesday coach Roberto Martinez in the press conference after the semi-final lost against France.
“Our dressing room is sad. We missed out on the opportunity to reach the final.” Martinez analysed, “It was a very close-fought match. There were no major decision-making moments in the box.” He pursued, “In the second half, we started well, with greater pace and they scored against us. Both teams took on a different role. France played in counter-attack and we tried to control the match. We lacked magic in front of their goal and Lloris made successful saves.” 

He concluded, “The difference was having a little luck at both ends of the pitch. I am proud of my players. They fought right up until the very last second. However, we must congratulate France.”

Martinez caused a surprise by choosing Mousa Dembélé to substitute Thomas Meunier, moving Nacer Chadli forward to the right. “We needed to be good in midfield possession, and Mousa is the better player for that. Meunier has had a significant role to play; we have seen him perform assists, goals and generally participate well in matches. When he came off yesterday we missed him, but we knew that we had to simply deal with his absence. Chadli is an exceptional player. The proactive players all played their part.”

He went on, “The margin was weak. We were not beaten in counter-attack, but when corners were taken. It was not the first time that we were beaten in a set piece, but I do not believe that this is a weakness. The danger of set pieces is part of the World Cup. It is a matter of centimetres.”

What did Belgium lack? Martinez thinks, “A bit of movement around the opposing end of the pitch, as well as a bit of luck, which every team needs. Not marking the sole goal made things difficult.”

Belgium still has a match to play on Saturday for third place. He went on, “We wanted to play 7 matches here, and we will do so. There was disappointment in the semi-final, but we have another match to play. We must remobilise ourselves, recover and try to finish third. This is not a common occurrence for us. Belgium finished fourth in the tournament in 1986.”

Oscar Schneider
The Brussels Times
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