Devils under pressure: defeat in Iceland almost certainly means elimination in...

Devils under pressure: defeat in Iceland almost certainly means elimination in...
Devils under pressure: defeat in Iceland almost certainly means elimination in...

National coach Roberto Martínez has to make do without seven (!) Titular players – without goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, central defenders Thomas Vermaelen and Jan Vertonghen, wingback Thorgan Hazard, central midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, and the two pocket attackers Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens.

By definition, the team that starts tonight loses quality and experience. But you may gain enthusiasm.

“Every disadvantage has its advantage,” once said a Dutch philosopher.

The Red Devils arrived in Tubize ten days ago when a pleasant water sun shone over the Belgian Football Center. The Hazard brothers had dropped out, but in those first days there was no mention of Courtois’s forfeit, Vertonghen (jaw fracture) would try, Mertens could possibly still follow, and there was always De Bruyne, Lukaku, Witsel … .

Physical misery

One defeat and a lot of physical misery later, gray clouds hang over the national team. In the worst scenario – a defeat in Reykjavik coupled with a victory by England against Denmark – the Devils could be virtually eliminated for the final phase of the Nations League.

It can be wrong.

For the first time in two years – since the match in Switzerland, just as much in the context of the Nations League – the Red Devils play under a little pressure. However, it is not the basic players who will feel this pressure in Reykjavik, but their stand-ins.

There is a debate among all observers as to whether we should all value the slider at Wembley. “Our internationals don’t like the Nations League, their club interests take precedence in this phase of the calendar – no reason to dramatize …” It is an honorable position, defended just as well by players like Meunier and De Bruyne. But then such reasoning must be continued and nothing more than necessary must be made of the changes of the national coach in London.

You cannot blow cold and hot at the same time. Either the Nations League is nothing and we shrug, or we put everything in the balance: substitutions and match.

What does Martínez think?

In the end, there is only one starting point in the whole discussion: what does Roberto Martínez think? Well, we can tell you, he was not at all frivolous about the defeat against the English. He was pissed. About the way in which the 0-1 lead was given away, about the lack of sharpness in the offensive actions, and about certain player combinations that had not delivered what he expected. The national coach has also thought about his replacements.

Roberto Martínez hopes to find solutions in Iceland tonight. Who can overcome the desolation of the scantily occupied stands? Who gets the best return under the pressure of having to win, in an unattractive atmosphere? Who takes responsibility for taking the group in tow?

Because what should not be forgotten – there is a good chance that next summer’s European Championship will be played in the same current conditions. And then it is instructive that Dries Mertens in Denmark fought themselves in the match, that Romelu Lukaku and Yannick Carrasco do not lose anything in quality in this setting, that Hans Vanaken and Leander Dendoncker performed exceptionally against Ivory Coast, on the contrary to other names who both against Ivory Coast if they were less successful against England …

Don’t forget how Martínez announced before these ten days that “the upcoming games will influence the European Championship selection”.

Don’t shrug your shoulders anyway, folks.

We apologize for the drama, but losing points in Iceland wouldn’t be a good thing.

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