sabato 7 giugno 2014

Belgium could pay for their defensive woes

Belgium emerged as one of the hottest teams in world football and the expectations are very high as fans and media think they will have a successful World Cup campaign in Brazil. “A lot of people are talking about this Belgian team and wondering how we will do in Brazil,” defender Thomas Vermaelen told. Surely, they have to prove they can live up to this hype. Belgium’s side is loaded with talent but there are also a couple of doubts regarding Marc Wilmots’ team. The first one is a concern about the fact Belgium will play in a very hot climate and to play in that type of environment could be a big problem for them. The second raising issue concerns their defence as Belgium’s back line seems to be team’s weak point. In Thibaut Courtois, Wilmots has a top class goalkeeper but the rest of the defensive bunch is a bit suspect. The only tested player at that level is centre-back Vincent Kompany. Wilmots assured Vermaelen a spot in the starting lineup, paired to Manchester City defender. Vermaelen had a troubled season at Arsenal and although he never disappointed playing with Belgium, he was sidelined for the most part of the season with his club. So he’s unfit and in poor form insomuch as the coaching staff seems to have prepared a specific work to get him back in shape for the World Cup opener. The backups, Bayern Munich ‘s Daniel Van Buyten and Nicolas Lombaerts of Zenit, are average at beast. Backline’s play hasn’t been convincing this season as Belgium’s defenders showed a lack of concentration in 2012-13. Also, Van Buyten  aside, this is a young unit lacking experience on the big stage and inclined to mistakes. But the major issue here is the lack of true full-backs. Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen and Atlético Madrid’s Toby Alderweireld are natural centre-backs but Wilmots rate them as full-back lining up them out wide, Alderweireld on the right and Vertonghen on the left. And this is the weakest point over there. It means Belgium is playing four central defenders across the whole back line with Vertonghen and Alderweireld that could struggle against world’s best wingers, forcing either Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne to come back down the flanks in the way to help them. And both Hazard and De Bruyne aren’t famed for their defensive work. Standard Liege’s Sebastien Pocognoli could have been a nice pick at left-back but he was left home as Wilmots sees Vermaelen as the No. 1 alternative to Vertonghen over there. So, although Belgium’s roster remains impressive, defence is a clear weakness.

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