On Thursday evening, the Red Devils will receive Wales in the King Baudouin Stadium. In Cardiff, the Belgians had to settle for a point, so the national coach is wary. “We have to deliver a good performance like the one against Poland,” said Roberto Martinez.
Good news for the Red Devils: no Gareth Bale in Wales. Although Roberto Martinez will not take that into account. “At Wales it’s not about the names, it’s about the way they play.”
“The team thrives on intensity. We saw that in the last confrontation and that is how the country has also qualified for the World Cup. I also expect that competition approach tomorrow.”
“I therefore think it is important that tomorrow we deliver a performance like the one against Poland – with intensity and cohesion – and certainly not like against the Netherlands,” the national coach puts everyone on edge.
I know what Leander can do as part of the three-man defense, but I’m going to try something new.
Boyata and Denayer are certainly not going to kick off. Will Dendoncker be the missing puzzle piece in the three-man defence, or will the Belgian choice lord surprise?
“Wales will give us a hard time tomorrow with its fast attackers. I know what Leander can do as part of the three-man defence, but I’m probably going to try something new.”
So the door is ajar for Zeno Debast, who impresses: “He has an impressive personality at such a young age,” says Martinez. “In the long term, he certainly has his place with the Red Devils.”
Or will Axel Witsel become a defender for the Devils?
Is Leander Dendoncker at the kick-off against Wales?
The difference at Real-Belgians is big
The national coach also took a moment to discuss the form of the two Belgians at Real Madrid. “I always get the same questions about Eden Hazard: does he play enough, and is he fit?” Martinez suggests.
“Obviously he doesn’t make enough game minutes and isn’t top fit, but his mindset is great. He’s excited to be here and wants to play. I haven’t seen that kind of energy with him in a while.”
A completely different story with Thibaut Courtois, who, according to the Spaniard, can hardly be beat even in training. “In 2018 he was voted the best goalkeeper of the World Cup, since then he has only gotten better. He has found a mental peace in goal that makes him very strong,” says the national coach. “He’s on top of the world.”