Football: Tedesco's first Devils selection full of surprises

17 March 2023

This Friday, new head coach of the Red Devils, Domenico Tedesco, made his very first selection. His choices are quite surprising, as the man did not retain some of the big stars of our national team. Here are the lucky ones.

Domenico Tedesco

© Jbo/Photo News

This Friday, all eyes were on Domenico Tedesco who announced his first list as the new coach of the Red Devils. And after the results, we can say that it's a surprise, because great established players of the national team are not part of this first selection. As a reminder, the selected players will be called up for Belgium's matches against Sweden and Germany.

Tedesco explained the shortlist of only twenty players. "It's important that everyone feels involved and that everyone feels they have a chance to play. We only have two games to play so we have opted for fewer players," Domenico Tedesco told the media after the press conference.

Witsel, the big loser?

Axel Witsel

© Jb Autissier/Panoramic /Photo News

The big surprise of this first selection is the absence of Axel Witsel, who has 130 caps. This means he is a pillar, also psychologically. Tedesco justified his choice to journalists from La Dernière Heure, saying that "his age is not the reason, you see, because Vertonghen is there. I went to Madrid to see him and I called him yesterday to explain my decision which was difficult to take. I mean, he has done so much for the national team that I would have to explain myself for an hour if I had to talk about that. The door isn't closed for him, but I want to test other things first. I told him that everything will be possible in June. In this position, we have plenty of possibilities. He appreciated that he didn't get the information through the media. We want to be honest with the players, because they deserve it."

The choice clearly raises questions for the future and there are already concerns that Witsel is making the same choice as Eden Hazard, Simon Mignolet and Toby Alderweireld in retiring from international football. Witsel did not respond, but the coach explained that he "hoped" that would not be the case. To be continued. Leander Dendoncker and Hans Vanaken have also been ruled out, as has Mertens.

Returning players

In the younger generation, Domenico Tedesco has obviously put his trust in Onana, Theate, Debast and Openda again. The latter is considered "in great shape" by the coach, who is also counting on him to support Lukaku, because "he is very different from Lukaku". Romeo Lavia has also been included, who has shown excellent performances this season for Southampton. In addition, Orel Mangala, Dodi Lukebakio and Sebastiaan Bornauw are all in the squad.

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