Football chief Ludo Vandewalle says YES: “I’m surprised how little respect he gets”
It amazes me how little respect Eden Hazard gets. He played 123 times for the Red Devils and scored 33 times, the most ever in the national team after Lukaku. There were even those who shouted that he should not be in the 26-man World Cup selection. Unimaginable. I admit, it is not based on his past that the national coach should give him that starting place. It’s a World Cup here, so no gifts are handed out.
The fallacy most opponents make is that they envision the Eden Hazard of the 2018 World Cup to judge today’s Eden Hazard. That’s not fair. He was then voted the second best player of the tournament after Luka Modric. Forget the World Cup four years ago and try to judge Eden Hazard by the games he plays. Simply, without making that comparison. Is he so out of tune then? Would everyone also shout that he has to leave the team?
It’s about: do you still believe in Eden Hazard or not? I agree with Roberto Martinez and still believe in the captain. Why? Because Eden Hazard at his best is still better than Leandro Trossard at his best. That’s why you have to give him every chance to get him back as close to his best level as possible. That is by letting him play. Another reason: Trossard and especially Jérémy Doku are better substitutes than Hazard. They can then make a difference. Hazard’s raids are rather mediocre.
Hazard is a thoroughbred, a barrel full of talent that lives on flashes. That type raises its level faster than slightly less gifted players. He doesn’t need that many matches. Knowing that, you should push the odds of a resurrection of what was once one of the best players in the world to the limit. Not trying is really bad. Only if things go terribly wrong tonight can the national coach consider choosing someone else.
Football reporter Valerie Van Avermaet says NO: “The form is too little”
“Only players who are in shape will play.” That was what national coach Roberto Martinez recorded before the start of this World Cup and that is precisely what Eden Hazard is not. Anyone who claims otherwise is fooling himself. Anyone who has been on the sucker for two years and has barely played 229 minutes in a club context this season – not even the equivalent of three full games – is not. During a World Cup in the middle of the season, with little preparation, being in shape is more important than ever.
Of course Eden Hazard is still bursting with talent, but that has not come out for a while. Hazard also indicated that he is far from the shape of his life. We can still understand the basic place against Egypt. Exhibition matches serve to let players gain rhythm, but opening matches at a World Cup are not for that purpose. Against Canada, a base place for Hazard is therefore not justified. Certainly not now that we have a replacement in Trossard who is in top form. He has been a sensation in the Premier League at Brighton this season with a goal every two games.
And it is also a mental issue. Even though Hazard is the captain of the Red Devils, he is more likely to accept a bench seat status than Trossard. After all, he is now used to being on the bench – at Real Madrid he is doing nothing else this season. For Trossard, on the other hand, a missed start will be a bigger mental blow. He realizes that he could do nothing more than what he has shown in recent months. If even shining in the Premier League isn’t enough, well.
Let Hazard get some rhythm in the third group game, if it no longer plays a role in reaching the next round. Or let him fill in against Canada, should the game be decided early in favor of the Devils. Then he can gain rhythm without pressure. In another match, even letting him come on in against Canada doesn’t seem like a must. Jérémy Doku came in sharply against Egypt and we are sure that he can come in well. His fearlessness and daring were in stark contrast to Hazard’s side passes. Hazard also has doubts about whether he is a good substitute. All not unimportant if the match still has to be broken deep into the second half.