Belgium vs Russia analysis World Cup 2014: Romelu Lukaku is 'not happy' admits Marc Wilmots
Victory over Russia ensured everyone's 'dark horses' are into the knock-out phase
Sunday 22 June 2014
Belgium may have made it through to the second round and settled any discussion about whether they would be flops in this World Cup, but they have not completely banished debate around their camp.
For one, there was the disjointed nature of their performance in the 1-0 win over Russia, and the feeling they are not yet maximising so much talent. Secondly, there was the effect of all that on the individuals - not least Romelu Lukaku.
The striker didn’t look himself during the game, but then looked utterly enraged on being taken off early for the second match in a row. It was the big talking point in manager Marc Wilmots’s post-match press conference. He first tried to ignore questions about Lukaku’s reaction, before eventually having to confront it.
“It’s not a problem,” Wilmots said. “That’s normal. It happened to me as well. He had to go to the bench after 55 minutes. Of course, he’s not happy.”
The truth is that Lukaku did not look fully happy on the pitch either. Reflecting Belgium’s lack of cohesion, he seemed badly isolated, and has only had two touches of the ball in the opposition box over 113 minutes of World Cup football. That is a far cry from the form he has showed with Everton last season, but will add to the debate around his status with Chelsea ahead of what is likely to be another loan move. His notional Stamford Bridge teammate Eden Hazard even admitted they discussed it at half-time. One other issue for Lukaku, though, is that his even younger replacement - the 19-year-old Divock Origi - ended up settling the game with an 88th-minute winner. It was Hazard who set it up in what may be a launchpad moment for his tournament.
“I think they have different styles,” Hazard said of the two forwards. “Lukaku didn’t have much possession. He didn’t have much space. I said it to him in the dressing-room. I think Origi took advantage of this later in the game, but both had something to do with the victory.”
It is the one issue that adds an edge to the victory. Belgium could also do with Lukaku recovering the edge to his game.
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