Romelu Lukaku has piled the pressure on Belgium ahead of their Euro 2016 last-16 clash with Hungary by admitting “anything less than the semi-finals would be a major disappointment”.
The Everton striker, who scored twice in the 3-0 win over Republic of Ireland on matchday two, feels Marc Wilmots’ ‘Golden Generation’ should be aiming to reach at least the last four in France.
He said: “We still have to make steps forward as a team, but we are on the right track.
“Every game is like a final from here on in, it’s all over if we lose a game. I agree with those who say anything less than making the semi-finals would be a major disappointment.”
He added to UEFA.com: “This team has been playing together for more than six years now.
“We have always understood each other, but now we know we can change the game at any moment. As long as everyone sticks to their defensive task, we know we can create a chance or score a goal out of nothing. That’s the great thing about this team.”
Belgium’s matchwinner against Sweden, Radja Nainggolan, concedes he knows little about Sunday’s opponents.
“Honestly, I don’t know a lot about them. The most important thing is that, if we play to our own strengths and play the way we like to play, then we can defeat them. I think that’s the most important thing for us,” he said.
Wilmots may have to make a decision over Mousa Dembele, with the Tottenham midfielder training separately on Friday due to an ankle problem.
Hungary qualified as winners of Group F after drawing with Iceland and Portugal and beating Austria.
Bernd Storck’s men are not to be underestimated, with captain Balazs Dzsudzsak relishing the opportunity to return Hungary to the top table of European football.
He said: “It’s really an incredible feeling that I could achieve this during my football career – being the captain, being able to lead the group and after 50 years Hungary being here, among the best 16 in Europe.
“At the moment everything seems like a dream and we’re always asked after the matches what we feel. And I think our answers are too simple because we’re still affected by what’s going on in Budapest and in Hungary, that 15 million people went out of their minds, that everyone wants to go out onto the streets to party and celebrate and that everybody wants to watch the national team’s matches.
“The fans here are also fantastic, coming out and setting an example, 15-20,000 of them marching up and down in the streets of Lyon, Marseille and Bordeaux, and with no problems, no criminal behaviour among them.
“Everyone has come here to support the Hungarian team, which gives you a boost and makes you hugely proud.”
Key Opta stats:
– Belgium have won six of their last eight encounters with Hungary (including the last four) whilst drawing the other two. Hungary’s last victory dates back to November 1958, in a friendly (3-1).
– Belgium have scored in each of their last 10 games against Hungary, including at least two goals in each of the last five encounters.
– Hungary have made it out of the group stages at a major tournament for the first time since the 1966 World Cup – they were eventually knocked out in the quarter-finals by the USSR.
– Hungary were the joint-top scorers in the group stages alongside Wales (6 goals each). 50 per cent of their goals came from outside the box (3 out of 6).
– Eden Hazard has assisted Belgium’s last two goals. However, he’s still goalless in 637 minutes at major tournaments with the Red Devils.
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