The World Cup ended for the Belgians after a goalless draw with Croatia on Thursday night. The Devils kept the best for last in Qatar, but despite a good run, the vital goal fell short.
But our analysts at Villa Sorza stressed that it doesn’t have to be all negative. “Martinez’s tactics were a good choice,” said fellow coach Hein Vanheisbrouck. “He scored good points.”
“The Belgians played with four men, with three players up front who had to run a lot and with De Bruyne and Trossard backing up Mertens. We call that a Christmas tree.” (because of Figure 4-3-2-1, ed.). “
“Carrasco and Dendoncker always had to go on the wing to stop the double Croatian occupation there. It took a lot of force, but they did it very well. The plan was perfect. There were many opportunities to break out in the transition.”
“If the Croatian midfield is not covered properly and the game can be changed – as Modric does with great football – it can be dangerous. But Dendoncker is so physically strong that he can walk and help Meunier.”
Martinez’s now-often-criticised substitutions can count on the acclaim. “The choice to only bring Lukaku on after the break was fully justified. After the break, the Trossard could no longer walk the spaces, but Martinez was counting on that, because then he started being substituted.”
Finally, Kevin De Bruyne also benefited from Martinez’s tactical tackle. The Belgian turntable didn’t come out at all against Canada and Morocco, but had a great game against Croatia.
“This line-up was in favor of De Bruyne, because he had to defend less and was always playable in the transitional period,” Vanheisbrouck said.
De Bruyne can also count on Steven Defour’s praise. “It was very good,” he said. “Every pass he made was dangerous. That’s why Mertens was a good choice because he could draw the gaps that Kevin needed. De Bruyne is an expert at finding spaces, he did it great, just the cherry was missing in the cake.”
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