Belgium captain admits having had candid talks, but denies any rift in the squad

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DOHA – Belgium captain Eden Hazard has denied there is a rift in the squad, but admits candid words were exchanged between the players following their shock 2-0 World Cup Group F loss to Morocco on Sunday.

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Hazard spoke to the media with experienced goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois on Tuesday after replacing the players originally scheduled to speak, Yannick Carrasco and Arthur Theate.

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It was a decision by the team’s management to try to dispel growing speculation that a number of players had fallen out.

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Belgium, ranked second in the world, will almost certainly have to beat Croatia on Thursday to qualify for the knockout stages.

« We had a good conversation between the players, » Hazard said. “A lot of things have been said. We talked for an hour about good things and not so good things. Now we want to win against Croatia. We now have two days to prepare. We must be ready.

Hazard denied there was a dressing room confrontation following the Morocco defeat and said he spoke with midfielder Kevin De Bruyne after the latter allegedly said the Belgium squad were too old to play. win the World Cup.

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« Nothing happened in the dressing room, » Hazard said. « Only the coach (Roberto Martinez) spoke. I spoke to Kevin De Bruyne, he believes in the group.

Hazard admitted the players were disappointed with their performances in the first two games in Qatar.

« We have to do better, we can’t deliver the performance we want (at the moment). We have to show it on the pitch, that’s what matters, » he said.

“We still have quality in the group and we are here to win. We lack confidence because of this last pass and this last dribble. We need to regain that confidence. »

Courtois, who will earn his 100th cap against Croatia, insisted reports of a rift in the camp had in fact galvanized the team.

“The problem is that too many lies are being spread. A situation is described that does not exist. As a group, we have to avoid this negativity,” he said.

“Everything was clarified yesterday. Everyone expressed their opinion openly. Now we have to act on the ground. It’s good that we had a group chat. We told each other what we thought.

« We have to be honest with each other and fight for each other on the pitch. »


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