Roberto Martínez, Belgium coach, gave his first interview at El Larguero after the rumors that placed him in the orbit of FC Barcelona. The Spanish coach was critical of the last elimination in the UEFA Nations League, but highlighted the great future ahead of the national team. In addition, ‘Bob Martínez’ also had comments for one of the pillars of his team, Eden Hazard.
How is the hangover to fall again against France?
“It is a mixture of disappointment and sadness. In football the good thing is that you can compensate in three weeks that there is another stoppage ”.
Is it possible that you lack that last spark to win a championship?
“Yes, we are aware and that is where we have oriented our work right now. There is a great psychological barrier. You have to be much superior to win the first trophy and then things change ”.
What do you need to take that step forward?
“Being able to manage the moment is very important. The first half was a radical change from the game we had in 2018. I think the 45 minutes give you a feeling of our footballing level, but in the second we have to improve that aspect ”.
Do you like the Nations League format?
“I think it is a great success to have four teams being able to play at this point. It is what we will experience in the World Cup in Qatar. Players rested and in physical fullness ”.
How have you seen the Spanish team?
“Spain has that knowing how to win. When you wear that shirt it gives you that confidence. Luis Enrique is a coach with very clear things. It is a very nice mix. Young people, energy and knowing how to act at big events ”.
About Luis Enrique …
“I think that having the experience you have at the club level is not available to someone else. Your system wouldn’t work for us. They are different ways of working depending on the market and federation you have. It is a great success that Luis Enrique is there “
Is the current generation the best in Belgian history?
“Without a doubt, this group of players are the ones who won bronze and that makes them the best generation. There are players with a great history, but they always have a great role as Belgian ambassador. It is very unusual to have 7 or 8 players with almost a hundred caps. “
Will it be your last tournament?
“Players do not play forever, but the idea is that the Belgian team is generating talent to always stay in the top five of the ranking. We are talking a lot about when these players will retire, but the influence of these players will go further. We do not see that this could be the last tournament “
Have they given you a lot of ‘sticks’ for the elimination?
“They have been critical, but it is understood. When it fails, it creates a lot of expectations. After a few days, common sense arrives and you can see that the Belgian team is there among the best four, almost classified for the World Cup… ”.
Will you continue after the World Cup in Qatar?
“No, I haven’t decided yet. Whenever I talk about my future, I don’t usually clarify it. We are still in a very beautiful and ambitious project and we have to think about the day to day. I have learned that the emotional part of a national team is taken to another level than what happens in a club. It’s nice to get to a big date like that “
Have you had any conversation with FC Barcelona?
“It has been a difficult period because it seems that you do not want to answer, but the truth is that they have not contacted me. The rumors with the coaches you know how it works. There is nothing more than an anecdote that helps me to start the day with a smile ”.
Are you worried about the future of defense?
“The lower categories usually win with the talent of the attacking players. The youngest do not want to play as defenders. The veterans are performing very well, but we are more concerned in the long term. We are working in lower categories to have players back in the future ”.
Why do you play with three centrals?
“My first game was against Spain and that day it was with a defense of 4. Analyzing the game we had to find a solution and that was the 3 center-backs. The system does not make you defend well or attack well, but it depends on the players and in this generation it has given us more possibilities ”.
“I had the great opportunity to see him grow. He is a player with an innate quality of scoring goals. He is a player that I always want to improve. He is obsessive and keeps working on the things that make a difference to him. Being in Italy is what has made him the player he is right now ”.
The figure of the coach and the Koeman case
“In these types of decisions, I know how the processes of looking for the perfect candidate work. It is normal for public opinion to think different things. I understand that it is not known much as I work with my teams, but the people in charge of it do. When I arrived in the UK I learned the figure of the manager. He was never in question for losing three games. It’s funny now that they now have that vision. It’s a shame because sometimes it takes time. In Europe it has changed a lot ”.
Do you see Hazard in the future fighting for a golden ball?
“Without a doubt, the first half against France gives me even more belief in it. It is true that Eden’s physical situation is not optimal. His in Spain is a very atypical situation. We are all concerned. He is a player who needs to play games in order to reach the maximum physical level. What I have seen is that it was medically perfect. If he is at the level of 45 minutes against France, he will surely give us many successes ”.
World Cup every two years?
“I think there are two parts, the football part, where all the details are not known. We have to sit down and we have to do something, but we have to fix the schedule so that the players can give their best. What is difficult is that FIFA has to be there for all the championships and federations. In the romantic part, it would break a little with the story because we would see someone with 7 or 8 worlds. You have to listen to the players ”.