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World Cup

Hazard & Courtois respond to Belgium bust-up ‘lies’ & reports of rift in Martinez’s camp

8:07 PM IST 29/11/22
Eden Hazard Thibaut Courtois
Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois have hit back at the “lies” being spread after a reported bust-up and divides in Belgium’s 2022 World Cup squad.
  • Red Devils suffered shock defeat to Morocco
  • Claims of arguments in the dressing room
  • Key men focused on next game & the last 16

WHAT HAPPENED? There have been reports of dressing room arguments within Roberto Martinez’s ranks, with RTL claiming that Romelu Lukaku had to step in as emotions threatened to spill over following a shock 2-0 defeat to Morocco. Hazard was among those said to be involved in the altercation, along with fellow veteran internationals Kevin De Bruyne and Jan Vertonghen, but the Real Madrid forward insists that a post-match discussion between disappointed team-mates is all that happened.

WHAT THEY SAID: Hazard has said: “We had a good talk among the players. A lot has been said. We talked for an hour about good things and less good things. Now we want to win against Croatia. We now have two days to prepare. We have to be ready. Nothing happened in the dressing room. Only the coach spoke. I spoke to Kevin De Bruyne, he does believe in the group.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: De Bruyne has suggested that Belgium’s so-called ‘Golden Generation’ are now “too old” to compete for a World Cup crown, with those comments said to have contributed to rifts forming. Belgium goalkeeper Courtois is, however, another to have rubbished the conflict claims, with the Real Madrid shot-stopper saying: “The problem is that too many lies are spread. A situation is described that doesn't exist. As a group, we need to avoid that negativity. Everything was clarified yesterday. Everyone has openly expressed their opinion. Now we have to take action on the field. It's good that we had a group conversation. We said what we thought to each other. We have to be honest with each other and fight for each other on the pitch.”

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? Belgium are, after taking three points from two Group F fixtures so far, now sweating on a place in the last 16 of Qatar 2022 and know that they will need to beat Croatia on Thursday in order to reach the knockout rounds.