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Thursday 29 September 2016

Wilmots: Our obsession is to reach final

Belgian coach Marc Wilmots. Picture credit: Reuters
Belgian coach Marc Wilmots. Picture credit: Reuters

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots warned his side must be patient when they tackle Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.

The two sides meet in Lille on Friday, renewing a rivalry from the qualifying campaign which saw a goalless draw in Brussels followed by a 1-0 win for Wales in Cardiff during June 2015.

Despite knowing each other well, Wilmots will still do extra homework on an industrious Welsh team which, driven on by Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, finished above England to top Group B before then defeating Northern Ireland in the last 16.

"I am going to watch some Wales matches but from their past matches, Wales will sit back and wait for us with five defenders.

"We could also wait and see how they will react, but that's not part of our philosophy," said Wilmots.

"We have to be calm and patient. We have to take our game to Wales and try to pierce their defence."

Captain Eden Hazard is expected to be fit for Friday's match at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, which is close to the border with Belgium, despite having sat out a training session yesterday as a precaution against a thigh muscle concern.

"That's why I took him off," Wilmots said.

"I think he'll be back the day on Thursday.

"He's working with the physios and he should be 100 per cent on Thursday."

Thomas Vermaelen, suspended for Friday's quarter-final in Lille, also missed the team's training in Le Haillan yesterday with Wilmots hoping that his suspension will give the defender time to recover from niggling injuries.

Following their defeat to Italy in their opening group match, Belgium have grown in confidence, beating the Republic of Ireland and then Sweden before sweeping aside Hungary 4-0 in the last 16.

Wilmots is determined not to lose that momentum.

"We have had two quarter-finals (at major championships) in four years, that is already not bad, and now we have just one obsession, to reach the final," he said.

"However, we have seen in the past few days that there is no easy match, so you have to be wary of everyone."

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