Soccer-Belgium coach Martinez shrugs off disappointing draw with Greece

·2-min read
International Friendly - Belgium v Greece

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium coach Roberto Martinez shrugged off a disappointing home draw with Greece in Thursday’s friendly international as the after effects of a long season for his players.

The top ranked Belgians, one of the favourites for the European Championship that kicks off next week, produced a laboured display in a 1-1 stalemate in Brussels with their visitors, who did not qualify for the tournament.

“We need to be disappointed because anything we do is aimed at winning but we need to also measure the benefits we took, away from the scoreline,” Martinez said in his analysis of the performance in the first of two warm-up internationals for the Belgians.

“We need to get our competitive intensity back; I don’t think we had that competitive nature we usually have. It happens after finishing a really demanding season. You have a release after a long club season and now it takes time to activate again.”

Martinez said game time would iron out the wrinkles and he would look for improvement when Belgium host Croatia in their next warm-up in Brussels on Sunday.

“These are things we cannot sort out in training, which you need to see against an opponent, so I’m glad we had an opponent like Greece because they are competitive in any game they play. We showed we didn’t have the same intensity to defend dead ball situations.

“But I’m glad we had no injuries and we got a lot of players out onto the pitch who got an opportunity to move towards their best level,” he added

Belgium did rest several regulars and after going up when Thorgan Hazard scored in the 20th minute, dominated play as they suggested they would go on and post a comfortable win.

But they allowed the Greeks to fight back in a feisty second half and, in the end, the draw seemed an appropriate outcome.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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