FIFA World Cup 2018: Commitment of players allow me to take risks, says Roberto Martinez

Jul 07, 2018, 18:00 IST | IANS

"When you play Brazil, I think you need to get a tactical advantage," Roberto Martinez said

FIFA World Cup 2018: Commitment of players allow me to take risks, says Roberto Martinez
Roberto Martinez/AFP

In the quarter-final match against World Cup title favourites Brazil, Belgium's coach Roberto Martinez made tactical changes to his team, which won 2-1 on Friday evening at the Kazan Arena and entered the semi-final for the first time in more than three decades.

In the match, Manchester City footballer Kevin De Bruyne who in fact played as a forward scored after receiving from Romelu Lukaku. He was later named Man of the Match, reports Xinhua news agency. "I have to do what I have to do to win the game. I don't care where to play," said the player who just celebrated his 27th birthday last week. "I did what I need to do. I know if I played low it would have been more difficult to score."

"I need to make sure that the team is calm in difficult situation. I need to let the players relax on the ball and not take too many risks," he said. He also talked about the changes in positions of captain Eden Hazard and Belgium's leading scorer Lukaku.

"We switched things up tactically," he said. "They tried to create many opportunities with Marcelo on the flank. I think in the first half we played very well and generated a lot of opportunities. Brazil changed their tactics in the second half and were better, but even then we created some chances. It was a test of character in the last 15 minutes and in the end we did enough to win the match."

When asked by Xinhua about the tactical adjustment, Martinez replied: "when you get the commitment of other players, you can be flexible (in tactics)".

"To be flexible means that you accept you have to take risks, that you have to get yourself out of the comfort," he said. "You just heard that a player like Kevin De Bruyne had to put himself in a deeper position. In the team he was prepared to rein in the forward line, prepared to contribute to the team. And that is what the group is, a group that is prepared to achieve."

"Then it allows me to be flexible tactically, to be dynamic, to be good at the ball," he said. Talking about the victory over the five-time World Cup champions, Martinez said he was the "proudest man on earth".

"When you play Brazil, I think you need to get a tactical advantage," he said. "There is a psychological barrier: the yellow tops, the five world titles and everything that goes with that. So we had to be brave tactically. It was a big gamble to change things and we needed the players to believe. And today is not really about the tactics - it's about the execution of those tactics. We have to be compact, we have to defend, we have to stop Neymar, Coutinho, Paulinho, Marcelo..."

"I gave the players a very tough tactical assignment and the way they believed until the last second was incredible. The second half Brazil did better because they took risks. It is not a game of tactics. It is a game of heart, of belief, of all the aspects that you need to show when you want to be a winning team. The tactical plan is just one aspect. Their performance is better than the tactical plan."

The tactician also praised his team for their concentration in the match, their belief to win, as well as their calmness and togetherness in front of difficulties. "I want everyone in Belgium to realize that this generation is special and they did everything they could to make you extremely proud. So I think we should all celebrate."

"We have achieved something really beautiful and we are happy about that," said De Bruyne. "The whole world is watching. We are in the top four and we want to go to the final. It is only a few times in a lifetime perhaps you could go to a tournament like this. We will do everything we can to be ready, and hopefully we will give you nice images of Belgium." Belgium will on Tuesday face France, the 1998 World Cup champions who had earlier seen off Uruguay 2-0.

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