Sunday 26 January 2020

De Bruyne and Belgium still want more

The Red Devils beat Brazil on Friday to reach the World Cup semi-finals.

Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne is ready to seize the day (Frank Augstein/AP)
Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne is ready to seize the day (Frank Augstein/AP)

By Press Association Sport Staff

Belgium are on a once-in-a-lifetime journey that they plan on extending, according to Kevin De Bruyne.

The Manchester City man scored a stunning goal as the Red Devils beat tournament favourites Brazil 2-1 to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.

A Tuesday date with France now stands between them and a first ever final, the current squad having matched the exploits of their 1986 countrymen.

This particular group of Belgian players have long been talked up and De Bruyne has his eyes set on making the most of this opportunity.

“We have achieved something that is really beautiful and not easy,” he said.

“We are proud to reach the semi-finals and will do our utmost to win that match. We are in the top four and are happy, but once you’re that close you want to do everything you can.

“Only a few times in your lifetime (can you come to a World Cup), you might go to two or three in a lifetime if you’re lucky. We will do all we can and hopefully we can give you some nice images of Belgium.

“We are going to give everything we can to beat France.”

For all their critics, France have moved into the last four with a minimum of fuss, ruthlessly disposing of Uruguay on Friday.

De Bruyne knows how dangerous they are and is taking little for granted.

“It’s an extraordinary team (France) but when you reach the semi-finals of a World Cup you’re never going to find ordinary opposition,” he said.

“Thirty-two teams (started out), they all know how to play football.

“We are on an equal footing with France, we will try and do everything we can physically and mentally. That’s all we can do. At the end, you do all you can to win and if they’re better, they’re better. That’s football.”

Belgium’s progress represents more success for boss Roberto Martinez, who left Everton two years ago to mixed reviews.

Roberto Martinez is enjoying his time in charge of Belgium (Adam Davy/PA)

He and Thierry Henry are getting the best out of this ultra-talented Belgian squad and he admitted to finding the one thing he had been missing from club football – a human touch.

“The game, the last five minutes, I felt we could lose a lot and the players did not deserve it,” he said.

“Brazil need 30 seconds to score a goal and then 20 for another! The players had a look in their eye that they believed in each other. We showed experience, calmness and a real togetherness.

“The only thing I miss about club football is that you don’t always get the human beings behind the footballers. Today, it was the human beings. They care about being ambassadors of Belgian football.

“That makes everything worth it, I hope everyone in Belgium realises this generation is special and everything they did is to make them proud. It’s time to celebrate back home.”

The defeat meant an early exit for Brazil and an emotional Neymar.

“I can say this is the saddest moment of my career,” he wrote on Instagram.

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“The pain is very great because we knew we could get there.

“We knew we had the conditions to go further and make history. It is difficult to want to find the strength to want to play football again, but I’m sure God will give me enough strength to face anything.”

PA Media

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