Red Devils “Backed into a Corner”: “But Confidence Hasn’t Fallen”

Confidence and optimism in the Red Devils dressing room? Two days before a crucial match against Romania and a nasty surprise on Monday night against Slovakia, Domenico Tedesco’s protégés appear serene and that’s the message that Arthur Theate and Youri Tielemans conveyed to the press on Thursday in Ludwigsburg.

“We’re backed into a corner, we know we can’t afford to lose, but we have to accept it, we have to play with it and we have to show that we are Belgium”: Arthur Theate was both serene and determined on Thursday at a press conference and on RTBF microphone.

The Stade Rennais defender is aware that Belgium has put itself in a delicate position by losing its first match, but he insists: “Confidence hasn’t fallen”. “We didn’t play a bad game. We could and should have won with a little more efficiency. We’re looking forward to playing,” adds Theate, who also dismisses comparisons with the failure in Qatar in 2022. “Qatar is forgotten. It was a disappointment. Here, we lost the first game, while we won it there. These are two different tournaments. We’re focused on what’s happening here, and we’re not thinking about that anymore.”

Tielemans: “Stay calm in front of goal and make the right decision”

A similar speech to the one made by Jan Vertonghen on Tuesday and Youri Tielemans also went in the same direction on Thursday. “It’s not a catastrophe,” assured the Aston Villa midfielder when it came to the defeat against Slovakia. “We know we have to win the next one to keep our chances of going through to the next round. (…) We had chances that unfortunately didn’t go in. If we correct that, I’m convinced we’ll win.”

Like his teammates and his coach, the former Anderlecht player therefore points to efficiency as the main cause of the defeat in the first match. “We need to stay calm in front of goal and make the right decision, stay clear-headed. But we haven’t worked on finishing more in training in recent days.”

But optimism remains the order of the day in the Belgian dressing room. “There was a lot of frustration, but that’s football. We were disappointed, but we analysed the match the next day and stayed positive, because we know we still have two games. It’s up to us to show our character and perform on Saturday.”

Written by Mike Stempel

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