'No excuses!' - Belgium crushed by Netherlands in Nations League as World Cup prep off to rocky start

Posted Saturday, June 04, 2022 by Goal.com

'No excuses!' - Belgium crushed by Netherlands in Nations League as World Cup prep off to rocky start

The Red Devils suffered from the absence of Thibaut Courtois as they went down to heavy defeat at home

Belgium's World Cup preparations got off on the wrong foot on Friday as the Red Devils were thrashed 4-1 by neighbours Netherlands in the Nations League.

Roberto Martinez's men are expected to be among the front-runners when the action kicks off in Qatar in November.

But judging on this latest display, they have some work to do if they are to challenge for their first-ever World Cup trophy.

Belgium outplayed by Oranje

The first goal of the evening fell to Steven Bergwijn, who finished past Simon Mignolet just before half-time to put the visitors ahead in the King Baudouin Stadium.

Memphis Depay added another after the break, and Denzel Dumfries was also on target before the Barcelona man made it 4-0 with his second of the night just after the hour mark.

The game was deep into injury time before Belgium finally got on the scoresheet through Michy Batshuayi.

It was scant consolation after a bruising result, though the hosts were without first-choice goalkeeper and Real Madrid's new Champions League hero Thibaut Courtois, who withdrew from the fixture due to injury, and lost striker Romelu Lukaku to a knock in the 27th minute.

How did Belgium react to defeat?

“There are no excuses for this defeat. You get the chance to play against the Netherlands and you have to grab that opportunity with both hands," Mignolet admitted after the game.

"In the run-up to the World Cup, tonight's game and the remaining matches in the Nations League are good opportunities to measure us. We have to learn from this and improve before the World Cup in Qatar.”

'Nations League is unimportant'

Just how much Belgium have invested in the Nations League is also up for debate, as star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne explained recently.

"Two weeks is too long. Well, as a player we can't change that much. I'm not exactly looking forward to it," the Manchester City man said at a press conference this week.

“The Nations League is unimportant in my eyes. Just glorified friendlies after a long and tough season. I am not looking forward to it.

"Anyway, we can say that we want more rest. Nothing changes anyway. Once on the field we will do what we have to do."

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