He is not here to play the “convenience stores” (sic) in defense. Leander Dendoncker is assertive. He hopes to spend his tournament in the midfield. And if possible as a holder. “And for a goal that we all know. We are stronger than in 2018, I’m sure of it.”
Start a big tournament
The chances are great that he will start alongside Tielemans at the start of the tournament. A great reward for a player who is slowly gaining strength in this competitive group. “At the beginning, I took my marks and it was logical that in 2015, as an Anderlecht player, I did not start in the middle of all these players who played abroad. There was a hierarchy. . I am now in a process of logical evolution. “
In 2018, he experienced his first tournament. In a reservist role. “I was able to play a game but above all I gained experience. A great tournament is a lot of small details. Our World Cup was played at a standstill.”
Starting out as an incumbent doesn’t change much for them. “It’s an honor more than an added pressure. I’m not under stress from the core. It’s in my character.”
However, we could have wished him a less hectic debut. More than his tenure, all Belgians have the absence of Axel Witsel to their lips. And his announced return, thereby ousting Dendoncker from the eleven.
“The coach has not yet explained to me what he expects from me. We talk a lot about Witsel but it makes sense given what he showed and brought to the Devils. I read what they say on the situation because we talk about it a lot. But I do not pay too much attention. I stay away from that. It leaves me rather cold. I do not begin to compare myself to him. He is a great player, very complete, talented on the ball . But I have my own qualities. Attention is also on the other injured: Hazard and De Bruyne. And that’s normal. “
The absence of Witsel and the lack of depth at the position of number 6 are all the more detrimental as a large tournament is won more often in defense than in attack. “The World Cup proved it to us. France was not spectacular but played well against. Good organization is the basis. Defense and the midfield pair will play an important role.”
The change of approach in Dendoncker’s game against the Croats alone proves that the dynamic of adaptation is running its course. Roberto Martinez wants to put his team as quickly as possible in the best possible conditions.
“He asked me to put the pressure on the opposing left side in loss of ball. It allowed me to recover a few balls higher. And it gives the possibility to Youri (Tielemans) to touch a lot of balls.”