Friday’s World Cup quarterfinal against Brazil in Kazan is a defining game for Belgium’s talented generation of players, said defender Vincent Kompany on Wednesday.
“The term ‘golden generation’ is obviously one the players didn’t come up with and it’s not something we pay too much importance to,” he told a news conference at Belgium’s training base outside Moscow.
“The fact that the game against Brazil is defining for our generation is for sure, though. It’s not like we’ve been failing up to now but there is a level above, which we need to achieve, which can be done by a game like the one we are playing against Brazil.
“So, it’s a defining game, but not just for us, it’s a defining game for Brazil as well. The players that they have … both teams deserve to be facing each other a little further on in this tournament and not in the quarterfinal.”
For years, much has been expected of a crop of players, which Kompany previously captained, including Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Dries Mertens, but Belgium have so far not delivered on their promise, going out in the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup and at the European Championships in France two years ago.
But Kompany said they were mentally tougher, mostly because squad members had been winning at club level around Europe.
He said: “It used to be in Belgian culture, and I think everyone would agree with me, we would feel defeated even before a game like this but all these players in our team, who play at clubs around the world, now believe 100 percent we can beat Brazil.
“Whether that’s realistic I don’t know, Brazil are an incredible team but there is not one day I go to bed thinking ‘what if we lose’?”
Asked what he would do if Neymar repeated his much-criticised theatrics from Monday’s round-of-16 win over Mexico, where he rolled around in apparent agony on the field after clashes with the opposition, Kompany said: “I don’t know. I don’t care. If it’s going to be a game of individual performances and just that, then let me tell you right now we have no chance against Brazil.
“But if it’s going to be a collective performance from a smart team that knows how to play together and fight for each other, then we have a chance and that’s the only thing I care about.
“Whatever any player on the other team does will not matter much,” added Kompany, who answered questions in four different languages during his half-hour press conference.