National coach Martinez sees that the Red Devils have learned a lot: "A pleasure to see our defense in action"


Roberto Martinez was of course very happy with the win. The national coach pointed out the difference with Wales last Saturday and also had words for Red Devils who barely got into action.

Ludo Vandewalle

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“The main difference with Wales is that it’s just a different opponent,” Martinez said. “But we were also more intense in the duels this time. We controlled the game more than in Wales where we became apathetic at some point. In the final minutes we knew that the same as last Saturday could happen. But we held out. We managed the game well. Too bad we didn’t score that second goal. We had more chances, 66 percent possession. All better than in Cardiff. We came back into the game, unlike in Wales. That emphasizes to me that we have learned a lot. That’s a good response. We did what we had to do. It can still be better. After all, we look for perfection. At the same time, we have to accept that this is difficult to achieve.”

No goal against

No goal against. That should also be a relief. “I am very happy with the performance of the defense. But I will not decide who will be on the defensive at the World Cup. Football decides that. At the moment the trio Dendoncker, Alderweireld and Vertonghen is working very well. Dendoncker did very well as a new man. I chose the same three because at home against Poland it also went well with those three. I also don’t want to forget Simon Mignolet. The four were good, a joy to watch.”


Eden Hazard is still difficult to judge. But it is clear that he is making progress. “Eden Hazard is not quite match fit yet, but he played in all four games. I’m very happy about that. He is no longer in pain, which is very good news for us. That’s the most important thing. You know, we’ve gathered a lot of information about these four duels. Painful result in the first game, but the players still want it. They have recovered. It will be difficult to keep players out of the selection for the World Cup in Qatar.”

“I am very happy with Wout Faes”

Of course, the fact remains that players such as Saelemaekers, Mechele, Januzaj, Sels (all four zero minutes) and Faes (5 minutes) barely played in the four matches. Martinez looked dejected.

“Well, but they remain part of the plan. There are two steps you need to take to get into the World Cup squad. The first is to make an impression to get there. The second is competing to keep up. I have special words for Wout Faes. I am very happy with him. He has a natural leadership and that will be one of the leaders in the future. Sure. I don’t know if that will be before the World Cup in Qatar. But I repeat: his character and leadership are good. I see him as central in a defense with three. Too bad for him that the competition is so great. Januzaj goes through the same thing. He is extremely talented. In March at those exhibition games he was very good. But he competes with top players like Hazard and Mertens. I only have one piece of advice: keep working.”

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