September 29, 2022

Russia 2018: Belgium must play without fear ―Martinez

July 9, 2018
Belgium celebrating after beating Brazil in the quarter-final

Roberto Martinez says Belgium must play with “no fear” in Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final against France in St Petersburg.

Belgium’s 2-1 win over Brazil in the quarter-final secured their place in the last four of a World Cup for only the second time in their history.

Martinez, formerly manager of Everton and Wigan, believes his players must not allow the occasion to affect their performance if they are to make history and reach the final.

“This group has to play with no fear at all,” Martinez said in an interview with ESPN.

“If we approach this match with fear within us, we will bring ourselves down and we’d be able to do so much less than what we can actually do.

“To play without fear would probably be the one thing which would help us the most.”

ALSO READ: Russia 2018: ‘Macron in Petersburg to Support France against Belgium’

Kylian Mbappe, 19, has been impressive at this summer’s tournament – scoring three goals – and Martinez admits he has made special plans for the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

“We will need to anticipate him and be well-positioned,” added the Belgium boss.

“We need to defend spaces more than the player himself. But we are not going to forget the others since France has a very complete attacking pattern.”

Thierry Henry, who won the World Cup with France in 1998, will have to put his national allegiances to one side on Tuesday as he lines up in the Belgium dugout as Martinez’s assistant.

He said of the former forward: “Thierry is someone who lives for football. He’s a very, very special guy.

“He brings to the table his experience as winner of a World Cup… that’s golden for you to have.”

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