Euro 2016

Belgium weak points without Kompany and Lombaerts

Author: Mattia Fontana

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Belgium is one of the most awaited teams at Euro 2016. And yet, a problem that cannot be ignored came up for coach Wilmots just a few months from the French tournament: the injuries of Kompany and Lombaerts, the starting centre players. Wilmots’ idea was to come to Euro 2016 with a four-man defence with Vertonghen and Alderweireld as backs, as has been the case in recent years.

Now the scenarios change. The first option could be to return the two Tottenham defenders to their original roles, in other words, centres. But that’s not the only one. The manager chose this path only in the latest match. In the previous friendlies, he tried to relaunch Vermaelen in the middle, placing Witsel on the right (2-1 against Switzerland) or Denayer in the centre (1-1 against Finland).

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Vermaelen has played in only 21 matches in the last two years and his lack of brilliance is clear in a situation like this one. Vertonghen is beaten by a triangle that the Swiss right wing activated. Vermaelen, the left centre, should cover his movement. Instead, he allows himself to be drawn up by the ball and gets the timing wrong. A hole is created that generates the cross that leads to the goal.

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Hamalainen’s goal shows how Belgium takes risks in both one-on- one situations (in this case, Denayer loses his man at the beginning of the play) and in defensive manoeuvres. In fact, the Finn cuts into the area undisturbed. Without Vermaelen and Vertonghen moving in to cover him.

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The first goal conceded to Norway explains how, without Vertonghen and Alderweireld as backs, it is now possible to play behind the side defender, much more of a push compared to an adapted centre. In this case, Denayer does not get back into position in time and he leaves space for King on the left, who also scores because of a mistake made by Alderweireld. Who only watches the ball and not the opponent.

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The second goal scored in the last match is a general short circuit created by a failure to communicate by the defence. Berisha starts off on a counter attack, challenging the left back, Lukaku, who stalls correctly. But then he turns toward the centre. And then Vertonghen and Alderweireld seem to be too slow to exchange marking and cover the space.

This is a symptom of how a lack of harmony in the section can also have an impact on the performance of one of the best defensive pairs in the last Premier League.

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Coaching World  Mattia-Fontana

Mattia Fontana
Mattia Fontana, Eurosport Italia editor.