Sports Monks

FIFA World Cup 2018: Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard lash out at the French national team

Thibaut Courtois has hit out at France for their overly defensive approach in the semifinal clash against Belgium and has called them an ‘anti-football’ team.

Didier Deschamps’ players looked to play on the counter-attack, and managed to get the lead through Samuel Umtiti’s headed goal in the second half. France stopped the rampaging Belgian attack with their strong defensive display, and sat back for the majority of the game in order to absorb the opposition’s attacking moves.

Raphael Varane and Umtiti were solid at the back, as Paul Pogba, N’golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi churned out tenacious displays too.

Courtois was critical of France’s style of play, and reportedly said, “France heads a corner and does nothing more than defend. I would have preferred to have lost in the quarter-finals to Brazil, at least that was a team that wanted to play football. [France] are just an anti-football team.”

Roberto Martinez had gone into the game with a unique formation, with Moussa Dembele and Marouane Fellaini playing unusual, varied roles on the pitch. France had troubles while adjusting to Belgium’s attacking forces in the beginning, but they adapted well and were concentrated throughout the course of the game.

They left very less spaces for the Belgian players, and reverted to their positions quick enough in order to thwart any defensive vulnerability. Paul Pogba, who put in a very mature performance in the semis, sourced the transition from defence to attack.

Eden Hazard was quoted by Het Nieuwsblad as saying, “I prefer to lose with this Belgium than win with this France. But they do defend strongly and are very efficient. We have not found their weak point. That little moment of magic needed to score was not there.”

These strong remarks from two very-experienced players seem to be quite unprofessional currently. Belgium lacked the appropriate tactical approach, and failed to open up France on numerous occasions. Courtois could have been a bit more subtle with his comments, but it is somewhat understandable considering the magnitude of the situation too.

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