Kevin De Bruyne is optimistic ahead of the Euros, but doesn’t consider Belgium to be favourites: “I wouldn’t say we’re the third best team in the world”

At the final press conference before the match against Slovakia, Kevin De Bruyne made no secret of it: for him, the Red Devils are not among the favourites for this Euro. “We’re one of the outsiders.”

Yet, Belgium is 3rd in the FIFA rankings…

“This FIFA ranking doesn’t mean everything. Sometimes, when you win all your matches in the group stage, you move up the FIFA rankings. That’s how we became number 1. In a major tournament, that doesn’t play any role. The important thing is to be in a positive spiral from the first match. I wouldn’t say we’re the third best team in the world. But we’re ready. For a lot of players, this is their first major tournament. They’re keen to prove themselves.”

You seem to be in a better mood than before Qatar, for example.

“Qatar is in the past. We can’t change anything about it. It was a disappointment, but there’s no point dwelling on it. We have a new coach and half the squad is new.”

Speaking of the coach, how is your collaboration with Domenico Tedesco going?

“(Sitting next to him, Tedesco puts on his headphones to hear the translation) At my age, I’ve already worked with a lot of coaches. I’ve adapted to all of them. But I must say that I’m on the same wavelength as him. He wants aggressive football with speed in attack. As a national team coach, you have to adapt to the players you have at your disposal. It’s not like a club coach, who can buy the players he wants in order to play the way he wants. But if we didn’t have the quality in the squad, I guess he wouldn’t have come. We’ve already made a lot of progress, and I hope we’ll make even more at this Euro. We’ll have to be there from the first match, because Slovakia are a good team.”

Do you remember your last match in the Frankfurt stadium, with Wolfsburg? You got fined.

“Wolfsburg paid that fine (Editor’s note: 20,000 euros: in February 2015, Kevin insulted a ball boy during a 1-1 draw, he apologised to the kid and sent him a signed shirt). I mainly remember the great time I had in Germany. Bremen allowed me to take a step up after playing in Belgium. Then, at Wolfsburg, I won the Cup and the Super Cup, the only trophies the club had ever won in its history. We finished second in the Bundesliga, behind Bayern. I had a difficult time at Chelsea, Wolfsburg relaunched me and prepared me for Manchester City. And here I am, 10 years later…”

Written by James Oyimb

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