Marc Wilmots has no problem with Belguim’s status as favourites for their Euro 2016 knockout clash against Hungary and accepts criticism will come his way should his side fail to reach the quarter-finals.
Wilmots’ ‘Golden Generation’ are expected to see off Bernd Storck’s men in the last 16 on Sunday with many pundits also tipping them to go all the way to the final from the weaker half of the draw.
Former Belgium midfielder Wilmots does not lack confidence in himself, or his team, and accepts pressure is part of the job.
He said: “We have the goal to go as far as possible. When you’re one of the five or six biggest names here you will be considered the favourites. We will do everything to go to the quarters and then you have different scenarios.
“There is more pressure because your [the media’s] expectations are higher. We have had pressure from the beginning of the tournament and we know that if we don’t do well against Hungary we will be criticised.
“We’ll need to play like a big nation, like a favourite.”
Wilmots admitted he was not yet sure what Storck’s line-up would look like.
“Our preparation has been the same. We have studied our opponents and their different options and line-ups. I don’t know if it’s going to work, we don’t know who will play in their attack.
“We have to do everything to go through. We have to control the ball, make them tired and then try to create one-on-one match-ups. They are very compact, however. We will have to be patient and play quickly. The Hungarians will fight to the end.
“I will wait for training and see what happens. I don’t have a plan [for my team] at the moment.”
Wilmots praised both goalkeepers – Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois and his veteran Hungary counterpart Gabor Kiraly, the oldest man to have played in a European Championship – before the clash in Toulouse.
“Thibaut has progressed a lot, he helped us twice against Sweden and we needed to have a goalkeeper who gives us confidence,” he said.
“There’s a new defence in front of him. We haven’t had much time but I think we’ve found some stability. Thibaut is getting better and better but maybe he lacks one thing. When he takes the ball he has to throw it out directly, [Manuel] Neuer does it, but he [Courtois] is still young.”
Wilmots lined up against Kiraly during his playing career and hailed the former Crystal Palace man’s longevity.
He added: “He is a great professional. we perhaps thought Hungarian football wasn’t that good but they qualified for the Euros and now the last 16 so that’s a bonus for him. I don’t know if I scored against him but it’s nice to have him here.”
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