Belgium exit the competition at the quarterfinal stage for the second successive time, as they did five years ago in France when Wales beat them.
One of the favourites for the Euro 2020 trophy, Belgium, were knocked out in the quarterfinals by a resilient Italian side. The 1-2 defeat on Friday night means Belgium exit the competition at the last-8 stage for the second successive time, as they did five years ago in France when Wales beat them 1-3. After the match, Roberto Martinez refused to comment on his future, saying this is a moment that is “very difficult to speak anything else than the defeat”. Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Insigne scored a goal each before Romelu Lukaku pulled one back from the penalty spot right before half-time. But Belgium were unable to find an equaliser as Italy went through to the semifinals.
Martinez had signed a contract extension last year with Belgium through to the 2022 World Cup. When asked about his future, he said, “Well, obviously, this is a moment that is very, very difficult to speak anything else than the defeat and that we are out of the Euros. As I say, at the moment, it’s still too raw. And I do not want to say anything that it could be (seen as) emotional.”
“At the moment, all I want to do is look back into this tournament and I would say that the players have done nothing wrong. It is the opposite. They did everything they could to get us as far as we can (at Euro 2020). And now is the time to analyse and to assess. But, at the moment, the feelings of disappointment and sadness, unfortunately, is what is in my head now.”
Belgium tried hard in the second half, constantly keeping the Italians under pressure, but they were unable to change the scoreboard. Meanwhile, Italy have extended their unbeaten run to 32 games on the back of their hard-fought win.
“The feelings are what you can imagine, really – sadness and disappointment – because I do not think these players deserve to be out of this tournament,” he added. “They have done an incredible job to be prepared to be ready to go step-by-step every day, from the beginning of the tournament. And unfortunately, today (Friday), we faced a very good side (Italy). I thought it was two very good teams in this knockout phase. And, unfortunately, the margins did not go in our favour.”
Martinez revealed about the situation in their camp in relation to injuries suffered by Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard. “The situation with Axel (Witsel) and Kevin (De Bruyne) and Eden (Hazard) going into the tournament, I think we managed it very, very well and you could see the attitude of those players. They started to grow into the tournament and they have been a real bonus. They really helped us from the moment that they could be on the pitch,” he added.
“Obviously, injuries happen and it is unfortunate that Eden could not be on the pitch with us (against Italy). But it was exemplary to see Kevin De Bruyne getting through whatever he would, to get 90 minutes with his national team and showing that he was ready to help the group.
“So, I think, for every ‘Red Devil’ fan, there is a real pride and understanding that these players did everything they could to try to get what we wanted to get. And unfortunately today, we faced a very good team (Italy) and, with two good teams, the small margins went for them. And that is a small difference and that happens in football.”