They may be the envy of most of the world, given the number of top-class stars in their squad, but on this evidence Belgium remain well short of being a world-conquering team.
In the first of three warm-up matches before they leave for Russia, Roberto Martinez’s side were flat, wasteful and largely disjointed.England, who meet Belgium on June 28, may not have quite as much to fear as the team sheet suggests.
An obvious caveat is that this was all against Portugal, the European champions who possess a fine balance of attacking creativity and defensive solidity. But Tunisia (another of England and Belgium’s World Cup opponents) had faced Portugal earlier this week and had posed a far greater threat than anything Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard could muster here.
This was only the fourth time that Belgium had faced a side in the top 40 of Fifa’s world rankings since Martinez was appointed in August 2016. They have won none of those games, losing one and drawing three, and they were whistled and booed after a dull match had finally limped to a lifeless conclusion.
The night was made worse by what appeared to be another injury to Vincent Kompany, who was withdrawn in the second half after stretching for a tackle. Martinez said: “With Vinnie we will need to assess him tomorrow (Sunday). He felt his groin slightly. He will have a scan and we will need to wait 48 hours. We need to let it settle down and then see. It is one of those blows nobody deserves. Since day one he has worked at an incredible level. He has tried to drive the team forward and taken responsibility. It has been a joy and you wouldn’t want to break that. “When he came off we were all very much worried, particularly because it is so close to naming the final squad. We need to remain neutral in our judgement. He told me he felt discomfort and he knows his body well. He knows when something is not right. We will name the squad on June 4.” – AFP