Eden Hazard conceded he "could have done better" after failing to inspire Belgium to reach the 2014 World Cup semifinals.
- Van Walle: Belgium making progress
- Wilmots unimpressed by Argentina
- Brewin: Belgians lack cutting edge
Tipped to be one of the stars of the tournament, Hazard, 23, contributed only a pair of group-stage assists and was largely disappointing in the knockout stages, notably in Saturday's quarterfinal defeat to Argentina.
"I think I could have done better. In terms of quality, I could have been better," the Chelsea player told reporters. "We all had a big game against the U.S., which left us tired. We are still lacking something to reach the last four, and that's called experience. I think we'll have that in a few years' time. We have to keep playing like that.
"The Argentines are used to playing games at the top level, when the tension is highest. They have the experience to make the difference with the smallest details. We were given a good lesson: it's up to us to learn from it. I felt that we could have done so much better, but we should hold our heads high."
Despite the disappointment of their 1-0 loss in the last eight, Marc Wilmots' squad did live up to their billing as a team on the rise. After topping a group containing Russia, Algeria and South Korea with a 100 percent record, they then saw off the spirited challenge of the U.S. only to finally succumb to Gonzalo Higuain's early goal in Brasilia.
"We have to be proud of the tournament we have had," goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said. "We defended well, apart from the goal we conceded. Overall, when we look back at the tournament, we can hold our heads high. We had a good tournament, and showed that we're a good team. In two years at the European Championships, we'll be two years older, we'll have two years' more experience too, and we can do something."
The promise the team showed in Brazil came as little comfort to Daniel van Buyten. The Bayern Munich defender had announced he would end his international career after the tournament, and though he has since said he may reconsider, he told RMC that Wilmots' men could still have been in Brazil rather than on the plane home.
"When you have that feeling that something's missing, it's really annoying. We had the chance to reach the semifinals. This evening, if Germany had played against Argentina, they would have scored three. I don't think Argentina will continue along their merry way, and I think the semifinals will be the end of the road for them."