More to Belgium than ‘amazing player’ Kevin De Bruyne, warns Joao Moutinho

Wolves midfielder Joao Moutinho knows holders Portugal will have more to worry about than just trying to stop Manchester City maestro Kevin De Bruyne when they face Belgium for a place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.

The Red Devils have lived up to their number-one FIFA world ranking as they qualified for the last 16 top of Group B with three victories, scoring seven goals and conceding just once.

De Bruyne, who underwent surgery on the facial injury suffered during City’s Champions League final defeat to Chelsea, capped another impressive display with a superb finish in the 2-1 win over Denmark in Copenhagen.

Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne scores in Euro 2020 against Denmark
Kevin De Bruyne (2nd left) scored a fine goal against Denmark in the group stage (Wolfgang Rattay, Pool via AP)

Portugal duo Bernardo Silva and Ruben Dias will be among those out to keep their club-mate quiet in Seville on Sunday evening – but Moutinho is all too aware of the collective threat of Roberto Martinez’s squad.

“Belgium are very compact team, they have shown that during the group stage, they score goals and do not concede many goals,” Moutinho said at a press conference.

“But we will try to impose our game and our strengths on them and take advantage of any lapses. Our goal is to come away with a victory.”

Moutinho added: “Belgium is not just Kevin De Bruyne. Of course he is an amazing player, if we give him enough time and space to think, to play, he is even more dangerous.

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“Kevin is a finisher as well, he does everything very perfectly, but we cannot focus on just one player, we have to concentrate on all of them.

“Belgium are a very strong team, and if we give all of them too much space, they will play their game very calmly and that will make our job that much harder.

“We have to pay close attention to each and every one of them, and will try to keep them at bay

“We also need to think about ourselves, to highlight our assets and be better than they are.”

Asked about the influence of De Bruyne and Cristiano Ronaldo on their respective teams, Belgium boss Roberto Martinez provided a glowing assessment of his playmaker.

Martinez told a press conference: “It’s a very easy answer and it’s because I’ve been able to work with Kevin for five years; I can only really talk about Cristiano as a football fan from a distance.

“For me, Kevin De Bryune is the best playmaker in football right now. He’s a special player. He’s a player that uses his brain and he makes the players around him better.

“I haven’t seen another player with that kind of style ever.”

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Portugal boss Fernando Santos feels his team will have their work cut out to shackle Belgium’s threat in all areas of the pitch.

He said: “When three play in midfield, (Romelu) Lukaku is the team’s central pivot, with (Dries) Mertens on the right and (Yannick) Carrasco on the left, but all three are very mobile, so it is up to us to defend well.

“These sides are a similar class. It is a final – it is for winning, not for playing.

“We know we will have good opponents. I believe, hope and am convinced that we will be better.”

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring at Euro 2020
Cristiano Ronaldo leads the race for the Golden Boot at Euro 2020 (Bernadett Szabo, Pool photo via AP)

Ronaldo scored five times in the group stages, equalling former Iran striker Ali Daei’s record of 109 international goals.

Portugal progressed from the ‘Group of Death’ in third place behind France and Germany, although Martinez, who will be without Nacer Chadli through illness, is well aware of the threat they pose.

He said: “It’s going to be a very demanding game in terms of our concentration. When you’re playing against a team like Portugal, who are very hard-working in defence, that means they’re very dangerous on the counter.

“Of course, they have some fantastic individual players who can all produce that moment of quality, so if you switch off at any moment, that will make is basically impossible for you to win.”