Belgium’s golden generation is imploding at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after reports from national outlet RTL detail a bust-up among some of the Red Devils’ biggest starts in the run-up to their clash with Croatia on Thursday night.
Roberto Martinez’s men have been left reeling after their shock 2-0 defeat against Morocco which has left the second-ranked nation according to FIFA on course to crash out of the group stage during a winter tournament that has been one of a myriad of frustrations.
Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, and Jan Vertonghen are said to have come together in huge alternation that led to star striker Romelu Lukaku having to step in to avoid further escalation as frustrations among the playing staff are close to bubbling over the edge, with questions now being asked whether or not De Bruyne’s recent comments in the media have caused further dissension in the ranks under Martinez.
The Manchester City creator-in-chief recently stated that Belgium had “no chance” of winning the 2022 World Cup due to the senior squad being “too old” to compete with the rest of the tournament field, calling into question whether or not the nation’s best-ever collective crop of talent has missed it’s best chance at international honors.
Martinez recently spoke with the media and suggested KDB’s comments perhaps lacked context while also admitting that Belgium has struggled to hit higher gears while lacking any joy in their performances on the pitch in Qatar.
“This is the first time I’ve heard those comments. At a World Cup players have to speak to the media every day, 90% of it will be positive but there are always one or two lines that don’t fit into the context.” We are all professionals and we know how to perform. A player is allowed to air their view. We’ve been together for six years now and comments won’t help us to win. Maybe it was a double-bluff. It’s what happens behind the scenes that matters.”
“We haven’t seen the best of Belgium yet. We are not at our best. It’s not just Kevin, it’s the whole team. We didn’t play with freedom. Football is a team sport and when it works together the individual can reach a higher level.”
“I don’t see us enjoying our football or playing with joy. We don’t play with joy and maybe that’s because of the weight we are carrying on our shoulders. We’ve played the last two games like we have something to lose. It’s not a lack of quality or the technical aspect. We were better on the ball than against Canada but the link-up and the last pass was missing. We played with a fear of losing. I don’t see the enjoyment we usually play with and that’s something we need to work on. We haven’t anything to lose anymore. We will play to win against Croatia and that will be the start of us at this World Cup.”
How Belgium will line up against Group F leaders Croatia will now come under the microscope, potentially highlighting who may be at fault for any animosity in the squad as well as who Martinez feels can help the side hit the right tune on the final day of play.