Thibaut Courtois denies rumours of a fallout in the Belgium squad

Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois has rubbished rumours that there is disharmony amongst players in the Belgium squad at the World Cup.

Speaking in a press conference, Courtois moved to quash reports of in-house fighting. Numerous outlets reported dressing room issues following Belgium’s 2-0 defeat to Morocco.

“There are no problems in the team,” stated Courtois, via Belgian paper Walfoot. “It’s just an external attempt to create internal problems. Of course, after a defeat, nobody is happy. But it brings us even closer because we know that we will have to give everything on the pitch on Thursday.”

Although he denied any fractures in the Belgium team, Thibaut Courtois did admit that players were angry after the recent loss.

“I was the first furious after the match, you saw the images!” he added. “But the problem is that there are too many lies surrounding the group, in the press, on social media, and everything the world takes for granted.

“As a group, we cannot let this negativity affect us. Even if certain things have to be said. We said things to each other, and sometimes it feels good. I don’t think we missed it, but its one thing to talk to each other at the table, or individually, and to solve everything together. The problem – what’s said in the press isn’t always the truth.”

Courtois then sent out a warning if Belgium discovers who revealed the team’s arguments to the press.

“Whoever leaked this? We don’t need to know. But, if it gets out, it’s his last day in the national team.”

Reports throughout the tournament in Qatar suggest that there are issues in the squad, though.

Thibaut Courtois plays down Belgium issues – but do they have disharmony?

The first cracks in the squad came ahead of the Red Devils’ game against Morocco. Kevin de Bruyne – their star player – dismissed his country’s chances of winning the World Cup.

When asked about their tournament prospects, De Bruyne said (via Eurosport): “No chance [Belgium win it], we’re too old. I think our chance was in 2018. We have a good team, but it is ageing. We lost some key players, but have some good new players coming. But they are not at the level the others were in 2018.”

Unsurprisingly, his comments likely did not go down well with his national teammates. In addition, De Bruyne received criticism from the media, including from ex-teammate Pablo Zabaleta.

Belgium then dropped a very poor performance against Morocco, where the African side won 2-0. This shock result leaves Belgium’s World Cup journey hanging by a thread and needing a win against Croatia.

In response to Sunday’s loss, defender Jan Vertonghen made a sarcastic reference to De Bruyne’s pre-match comments – further implying a squad rift.

“Where did it go wrong?” he queried, via The Athletic. “We probably attack badly because we are too old. That must be it, surely?”

On Monday, reports from the Daily Mail emerged saying that De Bruyne, Vertonghen, and Eden Hazard had an angry altercation. This happened in the dressing room, fresh after their defeat vs Morocco. Romelu Lukaku reportedly had to separate the clashing veterans.

Contrasting reports from CBS correspondent Ben Jacobs say there was no physical altercation, though. But players did indeed lose their temper.

As a result of these different claims, Belgium media outlet RTL Sports said that Belgium are “on the verge of implosion”.

Whether the Red Devils can listen to Courtois’ words and unite for their third game remains to be seen.

Featured image credit: Getty