Wednesday May 11 2016
Wilmots: ‘Belgium vs Italy very tactical’

It will be ‘a very tactical game’ when Belgium face Italy in Euro 2016, according to their CT Marc Wilmots.

The two teams face off in their opening fixture on 13 June and the Belgian boss spoke to Gazzetta dello Sport about the clash, while also discussing Roma’s Radja Nainggolan and Napoli’s Dries Mertens.

“I expect a very tactical game, Italy have their very solid 4-3-3 and neither of the two teams can risk too much- Truly, losing the first game would be a tragedy,” Wilmots said.

“Afterwards unpredictable things can happen and you risk a lot straight away in a tournament like this. The Euros are even more complicated than the World Cup. The level is high. The important thing is to set out without traumas.

“We’ve laid the right foundations in Belgium. I decide everything, I chose the Coaches of the Under 19 and Under 21 teams, and the medical staff who work with the senior and youth teams.

“There’s also the base tactical idea, although everyone is free to adapt it considering the players they have, because the system of play itself is less important than the characteristics of its interpreters.

“The problems with our team are the injuries: think Kompany. But they are the same problems faced by every CT.

“My team isn’t naïve anymore. The World Cup taught us many things. In a tournament the circumstances count, and few know that better than me after that goal was ruled out against Brazil.

“Attacking or defensive? What interests me is balance. But scoring goals is always a pleasure, look at my statistics as a player.

“Italian football defensive? Labels are of little use. If one team plays attacking football and then loses 4-0 is that good? For me Vertonghen must do 70 per cent defensive work and 30 per cent in attack, and for De Bruyne the opposite.

“When I see a central defender dribbling I become crazy. If you say to me ‘it’s to show that everyone can play football well’, I’d reply that football ability is manifested in other ways. A defender who dribbles isn’t doing the work he should do.

“I like the three centre-backs at Juventus because they do exactly what they should do.

“Nainggolan is a fighter, but not just that. He has a profile that I like, he knows how to recover the ball and go forward. He changes the game, can pass long and has a good shot. Before the World Cup he played little, but now he’s a different player and everything he has he’s earned on the pitch.

“Mertens is the man who gave us the most assists and goals in qualifying along with De Bruyne. He has an exceptional mentality, even when he comes on off the bench. Like Origi and Carrasco, he’s someone who makes an impact straight away.”

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