Belgium's Martinez wants Euros squad sizes expanded

By Sports Desk March 30, 2021

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez says he would like to see squad size limits expanded for Euro 2020 due to the COVID-19 situation.

Martinez revealed after Belgium's 8-0 2022 World Cup qualifying win over Belarus on Tuesday that the idea had been discussed among coaches including England's Gareth Southgate and Italy's Roberto Mancini.

Mancini flagged the idea of expanding squad sizes from 23 to 26 in the media on Monday, while Martinez noted the Royal Belgian Football Association (KBVB) was pushing for a change.

"I support the Royal Belgian Football Association completely in the idea of increasing the squad numbers," Martinez said.

"I think it's something that's needed. It would match the changes that've been made in the current situation in world football, with the five substitutions, the uncertainty of the pandemic attack and the extra level of injuries, I think it would be a good thing to do."

The Euros are set to be played across 12 cities in a dozen European countries, with Belgium's group playing in Copenhagen and St Petersburg, adding unique logistical challenges to the event.

Mancini and Martinez have argued that the congested recent football schedule and subsequent increase in injuries means the change made sense.

"I think we've got a bigger picture now international football is not what it used to be," Martinez said.

"They only had one big tournament around the corner. Now the Euros were delayed, in the next 18 months we're going to be participating in the qualifiers for the World Cup. You've got the World Cup at the end of it and you've got the Nations League final.

"There's many, many players who'll be needed over the next 18 months and everything is a process."

Belgium, who made the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, are among the favourites to lift the European title and Martinez said he was narrowing in on his final squad for the tournament.

"The information of this camp will be essential for the final list for the Euros," the former Everton and Swansea City boss said. "Everything is taken into consideration.

"When you go to tournament football, it's very, very different. We think that tournament football, you've got two tournaments in one tournament. First you've got the group phase, the three games, and then the knockout.

"We need to have players for both tournaments. It's a mixture. I'm willing to do it like we did in the World Cup 2018, making sure we take every individual to fit a good balance in the squad and pick the best members for the best squad possible."

Related items

  • Aston Villa agree deal for Sevilla defender Diego Carlos Aston Villa agree deal for Sevilla defender Diego Carlos

    Aston Villa have agreed a deal with Sevilla to sign centre-back Diego Carlos for an undisclosed fee.

    The club confirmed on Thursday the player will travel to England "in the next few hours" to finalise personal terms and undergo a medical, with reports suggesting the fee will be in the region of £26.4million (€31m).

    Diego Carlos would be Villa's second signing in the space of a few days, with a deal also announced earlier this week for Marseille midfielder Boubacar Kamara, who will soon become a free agent.

    Former Nantes defender Diego Carlos was pursued by Newcastle United for much of the January transfer window – even reportedly handing in a transfer request – but will now link up instead with Steven Gerrard's side, who finished 14th in the Premier League this season.

    The 29-year-old played 136 games for Sevilla since his signing in 2019, winning the Europa League in 2020 when his overhead kick was turned into his own net by then Inter striker Romelu Lukaku for the decisive goal in the final.

    Diego Carlos was also a part of the Brazil team that won gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

    A statement on Sevilla's website also confirmed the news, with the Spanish club adding: "Sevilla FC wants to thank the player for his work during all these years in Seville and wishes him the best of luck in his new professional stage."

  • 'I've never suffered so much' – Ibrahimovic reveals pain of knee injury 'I've never suffered so much' – Ibrahimovic reveals pain of knee injury

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic revealed he has "never suffered so much" as he did in the past six months after the Milan striker underwent knee surgery.

    The new Serie A champions on Wednesday revealed Ibrahimovic will be out for up to eight months following an operation on his left knee.

    Ibrahimovic came off the bench in a 3-0 win over Sassuolo on Sunday that sealed the Rossoneri's first Scudetto for 11 years.

    The 40-year-old Sweden striker only started 12 games for Stefano Pioli's side this season and with his contract expiring at the end of next month, his future is up in the air.

    Ibrahimovic on Thursday opened up on the pain he has experienced this year.

    "For the past six months I played without an ACL in my left knee," he posted on Instagram.

    "Swollen knee for six months. I was only able to train with the team 10 times in the last six months.

    "Took more than 20 injections in six months. Emptied the knee once a week for six months. Painkillers every day for six months.

    "Barely slept for six months because of the pain. Never suffered so much on and off the pitch. I made something impossible to something possible.

    "In my mind I had only one objective, to make my team-mates and coach champions of Italy because I made them a promise. Today I have a new ACL and another trophy."

  • 'One of the world's best centre forwards' – Voller hails Patrik Schick as Bundesliga hot shot lands long-term deal 'One of the world's best centre forwards' – Voller hails Patrik Schick as Bundesliga hot shot lands long-term deal

    Bayer Leverkusen have secured the future of their coveted striker Patrik Schick by signing up the prolific Czech for the next five years.

    Schick was joint-top goalscorer alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at last year's delayed Euro 2020 tournament, hitting five goals.

    He carried that form into the 2021-22 Bundesliga campaign, tallying 24 goals in 27 league games as Leverkusen finished third to earn a Champions League place.

    Only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski scored more in the German top flight, and Schick had been linked with a host of clubs, including Premier League outfits Arsenal and Newcastle United.

    He was prepared to forgo the possibility of such a switch as he extended a previous contract that ran to 2025 with the new deal that takes him through to the end of the 2026-27 season.

    "I just feel good here," said 26-year-old Schick. "It's a lot of fun with these guys. Qualifying for the Champions League is a good next step. 

    "A lot is possible here, which is exactly why I extended my contract at Bayer 04."

    Leverkusen's departing sporting director Rudi Voller left a parting gift by playing a significant part in the negotiations, with the 1990 World Cup winner saying: "Renewing with such a player is an expression of our ambitions and a clear sign that things will continue at the top level at Bayer Leverkusen even after my departure.

    "For me, Patrik Schick is currently one of the world's best centre forwards. I'm looking forward to seeing him in the Werkself shirt in the years to come."

    Voller is vacating his position as former Leverkusen midfielder Simon Rolfes steps up to inherit the role.

    Rolfes said: "There are only a few centre forwards of his stature internationally. Added to Patrik's exceptional sporting qualities as a full-fledged striker are the skills of a leader."

    Schick came to international prominence thanks to his sensational long-range strike for the Czech Republic against Scotland, which was voted Euro 2020's goal of the tournament.

    He showed brilliant vision to shoot from just inside the Scotland half, with the goal measured at 49.7 yards, making it the furthest distance from which a goal has been scored at the European Championship since such data was first recorded in 1980.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.