On Sweden-Belgium: “The striking thing is that no one knows the team. De Bruyne is actually very positive.” Red Devils

The Croatia-Belgium match (0-0) in the World Cup was Roberto Martinez’s swan song for the Red Devils, and the Sweden-Belgium match will soon be the first act of the new chapter under national coach Domenico Tedesco. How is analyst Wim de Koninck looking at tonight’s match as the opening match of the European Championship preliminary round?

First about the discount. “I don’t really know what to expect from the Swedes, who had a very bad year in 2022, without the World Cup and were relegated to the UEFA Nations League. They have some problems in defence, but they are a difficult team. In Stockholm, that is already the case.” “It’s a simple test for Tedesco and his new group.”

Tedesco was chosen differently than Martinez: a smaller group that includes some new, young names. “The striking thing is that no one knows which team they will face tonight. In this regard, there is a closeness in the group.” In this way, de Coninck seems to suggest less recklessness.

“Under Martinez, everyone always knew who was going to play, and now it’s a matter of guessing which 11 players will start the match.”

“Courtois, De Bruyne and Lukaku will play for sure, but whether Vertonghen will also play is a question mark. The rest is curious.”

Lukaku went into the World Cup injured, and the Belgians were clearly missing their top scorer. “I think he is quite fit now. He is not allowed to play much at Inter, he is usually used as a substitute. When he comes, he usually performs very well. It remains to be seen if he has enough rhythm or if he will be able to do that.” . “It could break Sweden’s fragile defence, and it could be embarrassing.”

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“From inertia train to ‘full gas’ football”

Another character to look out for is Romeo Lavia, the Southampton midfielder who is making his debut for the national team. He added: “A lot is expected of him, but he is still only 19 years old. There is a lot of pressure on his shoulders.”

“It is of course true that he will be able to form a strong triangle in midfield next to Onana and De Bruyne. He will have to fill in for Witsel a little bit.”

“The latter received a lot of criticism, that’s why he’s no longer there. Tedesco wants to play ‘complete’ football based on the Red Bull philosophy. You need boys who play deep quickly, who are very strong in recovering the ball., who is able to handle the fastest pace for 90 minutes…”

“He hopes to find the right man with Lafia, who is strong at losing the ball and in possession. I think he will start.”

Kevin De Bruyne is very positive indeed. It’s a team metric: if it’s positive, I think we can look forward to something.

Analyst Wim de Koninck

Tonight we will definitely see a break from the past. “Under Martinez it became a rollercoaster. At the World Cup it became clear that we were no longer playing modern football.”

“With Tedesco, they appointed a young, fresh coach who has passed the selections and wants to play ‘Full Gas’ football. He was only able to train 3 times, and normally ‘Full Gas’ needs a lot of training and automation is necessary.”

“He tried to solve the problem through video sessions, he says himself. The question is whether they will pick it up quickly, but I think so.”

“Kevin De Bruyne has been very positive indeed, much more positive than he was in the last World Cup. Kevin is part of the measure of this team. If he is positive, I think we can look forward to something.”

“Tedesco describes De Bruyne as the mirror of the team. But for me he is just a barometer: when Kevin is in a good mood and reaching his best level, we are all involved. We saw that in Qatar, Kevin must feel good.”

Amber Webster

 "Freelance zombie fanatic. Devoted web advocate. Analyst. Writer. Coffee fanatic. Travelaholic. Proud food aficionado."

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