Belgium can pass a clear round in qualifying for the Euro, with thirty points out of thirty (the record was 28 points with coach Marc Wilmots for qualifying at the 2014 World Cup), if it wins against Cyprus this Tuesday evening in Brussels (20:45). His captain, Eden Hazard, came out of a double in Saint-Petersburg, where the Red Devils managed a demonstration of collective strength (4-1) against Russia, especially in the first period (3-0).
The playmaker of Real Madrid has also contributed to the result his younger brother Thorgan offering him a decisive pass for the opener. The former star of LOSC recognizes that the Belgian goal will be to win the next Euro, if possible before facing France, in quarters or semi-finals.
"In 105 selections, you have been involved in 63 goals in the national team (32 goals, 31 assists). Have you become a statistics player?
What changed was when I was entrusted with the armband (sustainably from June 7, 2015 against the Blues, 4-3). I gave my best every time. I consider myself a technical leader. It's up to me to offer opportunities, to lead the game but never try to heal my statistics.
The most important thing is to make the team play. But with this armband, I continued to enjoy and play the team. It shows and it feels. I try to be decisive at every match. But I'm not here to break records. I prefer high-stakes games, like the one in Russia, than to score against San Marino or Gibraltar, with the respect I have for them.
Right now, we're talking a lot about the Hazard brothers …
That's good, but Belgium is not just about us. This is not what we are looking for. If we look at the scoreboard in St. Petersburg, the Hazard scored three times. This is good for Thorgan but the group is more important. Sometimes, in the game, we are looking for each other more. But Belgium has a very good workforce. We usually play together. As I had with Yannick (Carrasco).
I put forward association and understanding with a teammate. The doublet. Affinities come automatically when you train together. It's not because he's my brother. I have the chance to give him a pass. He scores. So we say: "They get along well". This is the case but it would also work with another player.
"We want to win this Euro, like several teams
Belgium has made further progress. How are you better?
Two years ago (2018)we were among the favorites. We will still be (in 2020). But that's not enough. We want to win this Euro like several teams: France, Spain or England. It is good to say it but it will be necessary to leave the big matches to the Euro and to be present this summer. It's hard to say we're better. If we finish with thirty points these qualifications, we will say that we are better than in the previous ones. But if we finish 4th at the Euro, we will judge that we are less strong. We have two years of experience and more. With the coach too. We all know each other better and better.
There are young people who push and confirm in the best clubs in the world. It is on the mentality that we have evolved the most. Before, we could say: "We will move to Russia and see what happens. " Now, we always go somewhere to win. We did not have enough mentality in 2016 and 2018. There, the fact that our best players all play in the best clubs in the world gives a plus. That's what will make the difference if we have to win or not at the Euro. We must try to adapt.
Still thinking about finding the France team during the Euro?
I think about it! I do not know if the band thinks about it. It would be nice to have a nice revenge (from the 2018 World Cup). In quarters or in half. We are still a little disappointed with this semi-final (0-1, July 10). If we had to replay France, it would be first of all a pleasure and of course a revenge.
Is your match in Russia a reference match and have you returned to your best form after your match against Eibar (4-0, 9 November)?
We can always do better. But with Real, it's been great for a month. When the team evolves well, it's easier for me. With the selection, it has always been good. I am in a great dynamic. It's up to me to make it last. "