Argentina v Belgium: Time for Eden Hazard to deliver, says coach Wilmots
Belgium boss knows Chelsea star has to be at his best against Argentina
Belgium coach Marc Wilmots has taken Eden Hazard to one side to discuss how to get the best from the gifted but under-performing midfielder for Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.
The 23-year-old Chelsea player undoubtedly has the talent but has yet to set the World Cup finals in Brazil alight as Belgium eased through Group H before dispatching the United States in a tight last-16 game.
Wilmots told a news conference ahead of the Argentina match he was pleased with Hazard’s performances in an attacking position on the left and his partnership with full back Jan Vertonghen as well as his help in tracking back.
“I spoke to him last night about how he can improve and be even more effective, he is eager to learn to make progress with the team,” Wilmots told reporters at the national stadium in Brasilia.
“I don’t think he is lacking much,” added the former Belgium midfielder.
“If you see what he has been working on for the last 12-18 months, he has been working on defence.
“He is on the left with Jan [Vertonghen] and we have improved a lot on this particular side.
“What exactly we discussed will remain between us but, hopefully, we will see it on the pitch tomorrow.”
Hazard made his Belgium debut in 2008 when he was 17 and has made 49 appearances in total, scoring six goals.
He seemed to struggle with the weight of expectation in his early international career, which was also hampered when he fell out with former coach Georges Leekens.
Under Wilmots’s guiding hand, however, he has started to fulfill his obvious potential and netted a superb goal against Macedonia in qualifying for Brazil.
Saturday’s game against Argentina, who eliminated Belgium in the semi-finals in 1986, the furthest the Europeans have gone in the tournament, is a chance for Hazard to shine on the biggest stage.
Wilmots said Vertonghen and fellow defender Toby Alderweireld as well as midfielder Mousa Dembele were carrying minor injuries but he was confident they would be fit to face the South Americans.