Kevin De Bruyne called on his Belgium team-mates to be braver on Friday, insisting he also needs improve ahead of Sunday’s World Cup clash with Morocco.
The Red Devils scraped a narrow 1-0 win over Canada in their opening Group F game on Wednesday despite an unimpressive performance in which De Bruyne won a man-of-the-match award he then said he didn’t deserve.
During the game he was visibly annoyed with Belgium’s performance and only a Thibaut Courtois save from Alphonso Davies’ penalty stopped spirited Canada from taking an early lead.
“We can show more bravery, be better on the ball, and overall improve our performance, and individually it’s the same,” De Bruyne told reporters at the team’s beach-side training camp in the south-west of Qatar.
“I was on the level that the team was playing at, I was below average, I expect myself to be way better than that. That’s what I’m going to try and do in the next game.”
A victory over Morocco would secure them a place in the last 16, with striker Romelu Lukaku potentially an option from the bench after training with his teammates on Friday following a thigh injury.
“Romelu’s return will not change the way we play, but of course he is a top striker,” said De Bruyne.
“Romelu has not played for a long time now, but even if he can only have a few minutes, defensively they will be more scared.
“He gives us a lot more options. His return will be a boost.”
De Bruyne’s body language on the pitch against Canada showed his discontent and at one point he gestured to team-mate Toby Alderweireld to go away while appearing to remonstrate with Belgium manager Roberto Martinez.
The 31-year-old says he understands his country can’t play like his club team Manchester City, but it still irritates him sometimes.
“We can’t play in the same way as Manchester City, as a national team you have to adapt to the players you have,” De Bruyne explained.
“Does it frustrate me sometimes? Yes, but I should show that less, although that is the perfection I strive for.
“I do know that my reactions are not always good. I also look for moments afterwards to make peace.
“Of course I also have to learn to show my reactions in a better way. Sometimes emotions are involved, but that is something I’m working on.”
“I get very agitated, I’m a perfectionist, I like to play good football, but I also know that I have to adapt to my team-mates and play with them and help them as much as possible.”
Earlier in the week Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola signed a two-year contract extension, news which pleased De Bruyne.
“I am happy with Guardiola’s extension, it makes my life a little easier. The way he leads the team is very clear,” said the midfielder.
“I feel very comfortable with him. The way the team plays is very positive and I enjoy it.”