Chelsea’s Eden Hazard says that his much fancied Belgium have so far failed to deliver their best performances in the World Cup and admits that neither has he.
The 23-year-old forward was speaking after 19-year-old striker Divock Origi’s late winner sunk Russia to give Marc Wilmots side a maximum return from the six points available from their two games so far.
Despite securing qualification from Group H with a game to spare, the Red Devils are yet to demonstrate the type of dominant, attacking football that has seen them labelled dark horses for the World Cup by so many.
A stuttering performance against Algeria saw Wilmots’ men fail to break down the North African’s stubborn defence despite dominating possession, eventually having to come from behind to secure a late victory before Origi’s late intervention against Russia settled affairs and Hazard knows that they must produce better as they progress through the tournament.
"We didn't play a very good match but the last 10 minutes were better and maybe the Russian defence got tired and we got more space for the substitutes, who were fresh, to exploit,” Hazard said. "We will now aim for three wins in this group campaign.”
Meanwhile Hazard himself has only shown glimpses of his undoubted ability that had a whole host of clubs vying for his signature when he left Lille for Chelsea two years ago.
The Stamford Bridge outfit were reported to have paid £32m to secure the signing of the playmaker who has enjoyed two excellent seasons in west London culminating in him receiving the PFA Young Player of the Year Award last season.
There are however still some question marks over the Belgian’s temperament and a public fall out with manager Jose Mourinho has led to intense interest from Paris St Germain whilst Barcelona are said to be monitoring his situation should they fail to lure Luis Suarez away from Liverpool.
The enigmatic winger, who has already picked up 47 caps for his country despite his tender age, sparked into life in the final ten minutes against Russia to lay on the assist for Origi’s eventual winner and has admitted that he too must improve:
"If I had not given that assist I would certainly be criticised and that is normal. Hopefully the audience will see a better Eden Hazard," he added.
"I know I can do better. Personally, I want to play well Thursday against South Korea. though I'm maybe wait another day to say, the coach wants to see how I recover."
Hazard’s quick change of pace and close control make him a nightmare for defenders and their will not be any looking forward to the prospect of facing him at any stage of the tournament.
While neither Hazard nor Belgium may have hit the lofty heights expected of them in this World Cup so far, there will not be any team underestimating Wilmots’ side in a hurry and if Hazard can raise his own game to the standards he is more than capable of he may just prove to be just the talisman they need.
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