Monday 16 July 2018

Kevin De Bruyne criticises Roberto Martinez's Belgium tactics and says 'something has to change'

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Belgium vs Mexico - Heysel Stadium, Brussels, Belgium - November 10, 2017 Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne REUTERS/Eric Vidal
Soccer Football - International Friendly - Belgium vs Mexico - Heysel Stadium, Brussels, Belgium - November 10, 2017 Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne REUTERS/Eric Vidal
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Kevin De Bruyne has openly criticised his international manager Roberto Martinez, lamenting Belgium's 'very defensive' tactics in last week's 3-3 draw with Mexico and calling for change before next summer's World Cup in Russia.

Belgium convincingly qualified for the 2018 tournament, winning nine of their 10 group games, but failed to replicate that dominance in the friendly in Brussels where Mexico held 56% possession — something the Manchester City midfielder was particularly frustrated by.

"Mexico were just tactically better," De Bruyne told Het Laatste Niewus. "Their system made our five defenders deep and we were swimming in midfield — it was five against seven."

Belgium boast a star-studded team filled with attacking talent including Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and the 20-year-old Monaco midfielder Youri Tielemans, and De Bruyne does not believe Martinez has not found a way to fully harness their qualities.

The manager deployed a 5-3-2 formation against Mexico, using Nacer Chadli and Thomas Meunier as wingbacks, but the team struggled to impose themselves on their game.

"As long as there is no good tactical system for the team, we are going to face difficulties against countries like Mexico. It's a pity that we have not yet found a solution.

"We are playing a system that is very defensive, but filled with many attacking players who want the ball. Then you get a bit of a problem, like on Friday against Mexico, a match in which we had very little ball possession and everyone in a system that does not really suit. We now know that something has to be changed against these teams."

Belgium continue their preparations on Tuesday night with a friendly in Bruges against Japan, who qualified for the World Cup by topping their Asian Football Confederation group.

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