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2 Responses

  1. Alarch says:

    Good stuff, and interesting to hear the level of confidence amongst Belgian supporters – not just expecting to win – but possibly to dish out a thrashing. Understandable I suppose after their commanding 4-3 victory over France, but more than a tad over-confident I would say. Texan, on the apostle forum, makes a very good case for how tight things are likely to be, and whilst acknowledging that if everything falls their way they are more than capable of winning handsomely, there are many reasons for us being quietly confident about getting some sort of result.

    Whilst the podcast dealt extensively with the relative strengths of Belgium and ourselves I think there is more to be said about our respective weaknesses. I think there is a weakness in the full back positions in both teams – and whether we cover our vulnerability and exploit theirs will go a long way to determining the outcome of the match. Although I can’t be very confident about the formation we will adopt (which isn’t a bad thing – given that our unpredictability has been a real strength in this campaign) – my best bet is that we will play 4-2-3-1. If so, then I suspect that the central two, Allen and Ledley (rather than the wingers), may be given the task of doubling up our defence – because that will be essential to keeping De Bruyne and Hazard on a leash. I suspect there will be a great emphasis on keeping things tight, and a disciplined formation, and rely on Bale on the counter to pose a threat. In that regard I suspect Bale will play mainly on the right wing – looking to exploit Vertonghen’s lack of a turn of pace. Having said that I imagine that Bale will also pop up on the left and through the middle. I don’t think we’ll see much of him defensively.

    Could we do anything left-field? One possibility is to pair Ledley and Ramsey, and look to use Ramsey and his superb distribution to hit early balls to Bale over the top. Allen could then be used further forward to harass Nainggolan and prevent Belgium from building too strong a platform. I don’t think this is likely, but I do expect to be surprised with our formation and tactics. It’s a positive sign of the confidence that this campaign has created that I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

    • Russell says:

      It’s interesting that you suggest pushing Allen onto Nainngolan. Our review of the game will be available via podcast soon and in it I mention I was worried at Witsel being pushed on (as John Chapman explained was likely) as I feared it would cut our supply off ‘at source’ and disrupt Allen’s ability to dictate and set a tempo. Distribution from the wing backs, Ledley, Ash and some really terrific short passing from Chester (Beckenbauer-esque?) meant we were distributing from different loci and able to bypass Witsel and, in the first half, Mertens.

      Whatever the tactics, it was a special, special night!

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