Martinez: The difference was one dead-ball

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez admits he was massively disappointment following his side’s World Cup semi-final loss to France after believing they were on course to win the whole tournament.

A solitary headed goal from Samuel Umtiti on 51 minutes settled the tie, to set up a final clash with either Croatia or England, who clash on Wednesday night.


Speaking after the game, Martinez insisted that Belgium’s future remains bright despite the fact that a number of his squad are already in their 30s.

The former Swansea, Wigan and Everton boss said: “My disappointment is huge.

“It wasn’t about having a good tournament and coming ‘top four’ – it was about trying to win it. It’s a sad dressing room now. We could easily have come to this stage and frozen. France are used to these big games but we coped with that side really well.”

He added: “It’s too early to make any assessment for the tournament. We need to focus on the final game and fight for third place. Then we’ll regroup.

“Belgian football has got a wealth of young talent coming through.

“As it happens in any big tournament, we need to look at the younger generation and try to become stronger from tournament to tournament. And in my role I’ve got the eyes into Euro 2020 so it’s not the right moment to make an assessment just yet.”

Martinez concluded: “The difference between defeat and winning was down to one dead-ball situation. That’s how close the game was. I’m proud of my players. We gave everything we have got. You have to congratulate France and wish them well for the final.”

Belgium will play the loser of England v Croatia in Saturday’s third/fourth place play-off.