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Belgium have no anti-Ronaldo plan, says coach

Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez. Photo: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez. Photo: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Published Jun 25, 2021


BRUSSELS – Belgium have no specific plan to counter the threat of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo when the two sides meet in the European Championship last-16, coach Roberto Martinez said on Friday.

Martinez said Portugal posed multiple threats, but Belgium were looking forward to the challenge in Seville on Sunday.

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“Obviously we are going to have to defend really well but when you create a plan against a specific player, you can get hurt by other players," he told a news conference.

“Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo is a player who seems to pick the right moment, that right pass and right place and you have to always be aware. We all know he is one of the best footballers in the world.

“But you also have to defend against the other 10 players. The way Portugal plays, they’ve got a lot of flair and a lot of pace behind. There are several Portugal players of a similar measure and we’ll need to be compact and really solid and defend as a team.

“You can see why this team has been successful, why they won the Euros and the Nations League. It’s because they have a incredible mentality and they know how to play the big games.”

While Martinez praised Portugal, he insisted it was his own team’s time to go all the way in a major tournament.

"We are a side full of confidence, full of momentum," he said.

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“We look forward now to seeing how we can improve and how much we can enjoy this occasion. At the end of the day, it is when we enjoy our football that we play our best."

Top-ranked Belgium had an injury-free squad, he added, and they expect to be able to deal with the heat in the south of Spain as well as a poor playing surface.

“I’ve been told they are working hard to get it (the pitch) as best as it can be for our game,” Martinez said.

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