Euro 2016: Eden Hazard gives updates on his fitness ahead of quarter-final between Wales and Belgium
Belgium take on Wales in the second quarter-final of UEFA Euro 2016 at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille on Friday night. And captain Eden Hazard has confirmed that he will be fit for the crucial match. The Belgian winger had injured his thigh in the 4-0 win over Hungary in the previous round.
With a strong Wales side standing in their way, Belgium are up against one of the better teams in the tournament. Although Wales narrowly lost to England, they picked themselves up and managed to top the group before seeing off Northern Ireland with a 1-0 victory in the Round of 16.
“My injury is okay,” Hazard said. “I was able to train.”
“I didn't feel too much pain,“ he explained. “We’ve still got time before the match so I can still have some treatment and we'll do that during the day.”
The city of Lille is of particular importance to Hazard – it was where he won the Ligue 1 title with Lille OSC in 2010/11.
“This is where I experienced my first emotions as a footballer,” Hazard said of Lille.
“It's always nice to come back to Lille. It feels great and this is my first time in this stadium. I hope I experience something similar to the previous stadium in Lille.”
He has since moved to Chelsea and had his ups and downs, winning the PFA Player of the Year in 2014/15 as the Blues won the Premier League title before a disastrous 2015/16 season saw him score only four goals in the league – the first of which came only towards the end of the season.
But the 25-year-old has since rediscovered his form and has lit up the summer tournament with displays that have seen the Belgian side live up to their rise in the FIFA rankings and reach the quarter-final after initially losing to 2-0 to Italy in a disjointed performance.
Belgium will be without Jan Vertonghen whose Euro dream ended after tearing his ankle ligaments. Meanwhile, Thomas Vermaelen is also suspended, leaving Marc Wilmots short at the back.
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Wales are difficult to break down: Hazard
Speaking about their opponents, Hazard was quick to note that they were a difficult side to play against and also brought up their poor record against the British side.
“We didn't create too many chances against Wales in recent times,” Hazard opined. In the last three fixtures since 2013, Wales have won once and drawn the other two. Belgium only managed to score once in a 1-1 draw in a World Cup qualifier.
“We struggled to score goals,” he continued. “They've got a large defensive block, they play with five at the back, they're difficult to displace.
Speaking of the threat of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, Hazard said the Welsh side had ‘top players in the middle of the park and a real superstar’ leading the line.
“I hope that the match will be different to the last one we played against them. ‘I hope we can create a lot of chances and score goals,” he concluded.