Roberto Martinez hopes spectators will inspire Belgium in match against Czechs
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Roberto Martinez hopes spectators will inspire Belgium in match against Czechs

© Belga

‘Red Devils’ coach Roberto Martinez sees Sunday’s match against the Czech Republic as vitally important for the squad’s World Cup 2022 bid.

“This makes this match all the more special,” Martinez said on Saturday at a press conference in Tubize. “The away match in Prague was quite tight. This time around, we’ll have the advantage of playing in front of our public. We’ll need to use that to our advantage.”

Victory in their Group E match against second-placed Czech Republic, who are on 7 points, would be a boost for Belgium’s chances to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The Red Devils lead the group with 10 points from four games.

Czech Republic, a quarter finalist at the Euro, held Belgium to a 1-1 draw at the away game in Prague. “We were able to see that it’s a top-quality team during the away match and at the Euro,” Coach Martinez said. ”It presses very high up, with many players, and very attacking wingers. I think it will be a beautiful match for the spectators, with two teams with similar approaches.

A bit hard pressed against Estonia, when it let in two goals, Belgium’s defence should undergo some changes on Sunday with the possible return of Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Meunier, who were rested on Thursday.

“We need above all to think of improving as a team,” Roberto Martinez said. The fact that the matches are coming in quick succession “enables us to work on certain aspects, not to forget the new faces we need to bring in,” he added. “I’m sure we’ll become stronger as the matches progress.”

On Sunday, the Red Devils will play for the first time since November 2019 in front of a public at the King Baudouin Stadium, where just over 20,000 spectators are expected.

“We’re very excited at the idea of having our spectators back,” Martinez said. “It’s a great opportunity to share our emotions with the public and we are really in a hurry to be there.”

The Brussels Times