Spain spoil Martinez' Belgian debut

The newly-arrived coach of the Belgian national football team, Roberto Martinez, had a tough start yesterday, losing his first match, a friendly against Spain, 0-2 in Brussels. Belgium hoped to take a new start, but started off the wrong foot in a Boudewijn stadium that was not a sell-out after the Euro 2016 setback in France, last June.
Martinez and T3 Thierry Henry could only watch and witness the Spanish superiority.

Two David Silva goals (including one penalty) sealed it for the Spaniards and their new coach Julen Lopetegui, who has succeeded the retiring Vincente Del Bosque. Spain largely dominated the game with strong ball possession and technical skills. There was some booing in the stands and some fans even wanted to go back to the Marc Wilmots era.

It was Belgium's first home defeat in nearly 3 years. Martinez succeeded Marc Wilmots after Euro 2016 in France, in which Belgium suffered a shock exit in the quarter-finals, losing to Wales. Expectations had been high for the "golden generation" of Belgium, and Wilmots had to pay the bill as he was blamed for his tactical shortcomings.

"I've never seen this generation so helpless"

Martinez said there were many lessons to learn from the game. He had started with mostly the same line-up as Wilmots, but with Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertongen of Tottenham in the heart of the defence, and Divock Origi of Liverpool in attack, instead of Romelu Lukaku. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) and Eden Hazard (Chelsea) didn't have the ball too often, which is why Belgium were almost nowhere in attack.

Football pundits saw no real improvement compared to the Belgium under Wilmots' reign. "They where running behind the ball in chaos", the VRT's radio journalist Peter Vandenbempt said about the Red Devils. "I've never seen this generation so helpless."

Belgium will travel to Cyprus for their first World Cup qualifier next week.

(photos below show Belgian disappointment, Spanish joy and, bottom, a number of Belgians fans who miss the Marc Wilmots era).