Belgian manager Marc Wilmots laid the blame on the makeshift defence for the loss against Wales in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals.
Belgium had a great opportunity to reach the semifinals of the competition and that this golden generation can perform when it matters the most. Questions have been raised about the mental strength of the golden generation, which features the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, and Thomas Vermaelen. The latter has missed majority of the campaign and it was not surprising to see him unable to feature at the Euro 2016 due to injury.
Wilmots was sceptical about the availability of Vermaelen for the tournament, but Belgium were handed major injury blows just prior to the Euro 2016. The likes of Manchester City captain and defender Vincent Kompany’s failed to make it to the tournament was one of the biggest blows. Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen was yet another injury casualty but midway through the campaign. All these injuries – especially in the defence – forced Wilmots to field a makeshift defence against one of the surprising teams of Euro 2016 – Wales. A 3-1 defeat – despite taking an early lead through Nainggolan – saw Belgium exit the tournament with Wilmots blaming the defence as a major reason.
“I think our strategy was good because for 25 minutes we played excellently, getting forward, dominating, and then suddenly we started to drop back.I didn’t stop shouting at them to push out but it’s difficult when they are out on the pitch. I was making big gestures as well.Maybe they were afraid of leaving space in behind. Maybe there were problems with communication as well but I am not a magician,” said Wilmots. Belgium will now start to focus on the World Cup 2018 qualification campaign which begins in September with a game against Cyprus.