After 12 entertaining days of action, the group stage draws to a close tonight (Wednesday, June 22) with Jan’s Belgium facing a crunch clash with Sweden in their bid to qualify from Group E.
The Red Devils, who also include Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele among their number, have their destiny in their own hands after recovering from their opening defeat to Italy by beating the Republic of Ireland 3-0 on Saturday, putting them second in the standings. A win or draw tonight would guarantee their passage into the next round.
One of 11 Spurs lads on duty at the competition in France, Jan took a moment out of his busy training schedule to update us on Belgium’s preparations for this evening’s game and let us in on which players and teams have impressed him in the competition thus far…
First of all Jan, how vital was that win against the Republic of Ireland after the defeat to Italy?
Jan: “It was a very important win. There was a lot of pressure on the game obviously, but I think we coped well with that. It was a game we needed to win, we did and now hopefully we can go on and win a second one and that will see us through to the next round.”
How do you see your third match now?
Jan: “It’s a big game against Sweden. A point might be enough but we have to go for the win. They have to win as well so it could be an open game which might benefit us but, either way, it’s a massive match for us now.”
How are you doing in terms of fitness?
Jan: “It’s all good here fitness-wise. We’ve been doing our exercises and it’s a bit like mid-season with Tottenham – you go from game to game, every four or five days there’s a match and there’s lots of resting and tactical work involved as well.
How are you and the other Spurs lads in the Belgium camp?
Jan: “We’re all good here. Mousa twisted his ankle but he should be fine. Toby and I are doing well. It can be a bit tiring after the games but we’re all good.”
Who has impressed you so far in the tournament?
Jan: “In our own team I’ve been impressed by Thomas Vermaelen. He didn’t play a lot of games last season but he’s having a great tournament so far. In terms of other countries, I still see England as big favourites. It might come as a surprise for you guys but I see them and France as the teams with the most complete qualities. They’ve got everything – obviously they have the Tottenham guys, they’ve got lots of energy, goals and power and I see England as real favourites for the tournament.”
Jan’s Belgium kick-off against Sweden at 8pm UK time this evening. Italy take on the Republic of Ireland at the same time.