Football

'No One Grabbing The Game By The Balls': Richard Dunne On Belgian Attitude

'No One Grabbing The Game By The Balls': Richard Dunne On Belgian Attitude

Belgium had a lucky escape in their knockout tie against Japan tonight, with the Red Devils just about overcoming the Samurai Blue over 90 minutes.

It was not all plain sailing for Roberto Martinez's men, as two quick fire goals in the second half left his team staring down the barrel of an early exit from Russia.

His side did however show some life eventually, when Jan Vertonghen's cross/header looped just under the Japan goal to give them a lifeline. Marouane Fellaini then came to his team's rescue, nodding home to bring the scores level after a brilliant cross by an otherwise ineffectual Eden Hazard.

It looked like the game was headed for extra time when Keisuke Honda went to take a corner in the 93rd minute, but after Japan loaded the Belgian box with just a few too many bodies, Kevin De Bruyne was allowed to quickly counter and Thomas Meunier crossed for Nacer Chadli to break Japanese hearts right at the death.

Afterwards in the RTE studio none of Liam Brady, Didi Hamann or Richard Dunne were too impressed with a disjointed Belgian performance, Brady honing in on the body language of Eden Hazard during the game, and Hamann questioning Kevin De Bruyne's commitment to the collective.

Hamann argued that with both De Bruyne and Hazard in the starting eleven there may be a battle of egos at play and that Roberto Martinez might need to think about benching the Man City star for the benefit of his team:

I get the impression that Hazard being the captain, they are both top dogs in their clubs, and it looks to me that De Bruyne is not happy playing second fiddle to Hazard because when there is the option to give it to either, the ball goes to Hazard and I think De Bruyne finds it hard to accept.

I'm not sure if this team might actually be better, they've come from two goals down so it may sound stupid to say now, I still question the attitude. I don't think this is a united team. Take De Bruyne out of the team, they may actually benefit. I think there are other players in the squad who can do a better job.

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Richard Dunne was next to criticise the quarter finalists, taking aim at the squads' individualistic leanings:

The Belgian squad were all very self concerned they're all interested in what their future is and where are they going to next, and when you hear them speak it's always about themselves, you don't hear them talk about the team as a collective.

You look at their performance and without the Vertonghen goal, there was no one grabbing the game by the balls and trying to go and get them going forward.

Dunne really hit the nail on the head with this Belgian squad, and for all the quality at Martinez's disposal, his team looked very shaky throughout the match, and can consider themselves lucky to be in the quarter finals.

See Also: The Mostly Positive Reaction To Hope Solo's Debut On RTE

Eoin Lyons

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