Once you consider Belgium, attacking brilliance, medical ending and inventive excellence in all probability come to thoughts.
Effectively, of their Euro 2020 spherical of 16 tie towards Portugal, not one of the above stood out all that a lot. Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard confirmed beautiful moments right here and there with out ever threatening to dissect Portugal’s inflexible form, whereas Romelu Lukaku struggled to ever get a sight of purpose.
In reality, main as much as the breakthrough, their affected person strategy might’ve simply been labelled as too passive and their lack of innovative within the ultimate third was fairly sloppy.
And but, they received. A 1-0 victory in that titanic final 16 conflict noticed the Purple Devils e book their place within the quarter-finals. They weren’t dazzling, they weren’t precisely thrilling, they usually weren’t sweepingly artistic.
Roberto Martinez’s aspect got here away with the outcome demonstrating they’re greater than only a spectator’s crew. They’re completely balanced after they have to be, and are able to grinding out a outcome to safe their passage by means of a event.
Earlier disappointments at main tournaments have typically seen Belgium’s possession of this trait referred to as into query, however Sunday evening’s outcome will put these doubts to mattress.
After Thorgan Hazard struck a beautiful first-half purpose, hitting a dipping and swerving shot into Rui Patricio’s backside nook, the onus to assault was handed to Portugal. And, though they did not look threatening for giant components of the night, an onslaught ensued within the latter phases.
All 11 Belgian gamers on the pitch had a job to play in these gut-wrenching moments, they usually executed them completely.
Lukaku was an out ball up prime, whereas the 2 behind him have been tirelessly urgent Fernando Santos’ creators. In midfield, Youri Tielemans stood out, breaking apart play brilliantly and managing 4 ball recoveries whereas additionally calmly protecting possession to alleviate the strain.
Hazard epitomised the position of the wing-backs, registering six ball recoveries whereas additionally surging upfield to alleviate stress and supply a thrust going ahead. And the again three remained strong courtesy of Thomas Vermaelen’s colossal efficiency, through which he racked up 12 defensive interventions and he appeared just like the elite footballer up towards Cristiano Ronaldo.
Within the panicked and virtually hysterical ultimate minutes of the match, there gave the impression to be an ideal concord throughout the Belgian gamers on the pitch. The stability of staying compact and shutting each doable avenue to Portugal whereas additionally managing to supply menace on the counter with assurance on the ball was proof that Martinez has obtained a squad able to glory, not simply leisure.
The golden technology’s 1-0 win over Portugal on Sunday evening could not have set the world alight, but it surely was the proper demonstration of sturdiness, composure and a resilient profitable mentality – and proof that they’re firmly right here to lastly choose up some silverware at Euro 2020.