Why Eden Hazard needs to step up for Belgium

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The World Cup is upon us and the so-called ‘saviours’ of their countries are all being counted upon to shine at the tournament. Alongside national treasures like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Mohammed Salah, Harry Kane, Joel Campbell and James Rodríguez, is none other than Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.

The 2-time Premier League winner has been cited as one of the best players to ever set foot in England, but on the international stage, he hasn’t mimicked such exploits.

Here’s why Eden Hazard needs to step up for Belgium.

Let’s be frank, Belgium has an extremely talented squad. Players like Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany, Radja Nainggolan, Dries Mertens and Romelu Lukaku put them amongst the best teams in the tournament. For Roberto Martinez, Eden Hazard is the crowning jewel of that team, the one man who can produce magic when the other talented players don’t turn up. However, despite being a supposed Ballon d’Or contender, Hazard has never really performed for his country.

Having played close to 100 times for his country, the 27-year-old has only scored 21 goals, that’s not good enough. That’s why he hasn’t won one piece of silverware with his country. Some would attribute this to Marc Wilmots’ dysfunctional tactics, but as the marquee player, Hazard must take some responsibility.

This season, the Chelsea man has only scored 12 league goals in 36 appearances. In the same time, Mohammed Salah has set a new campaign record with 32 goals. That’s the level Hazard is competing with and ultimately failing against. If he wants to become the best player in the league, let alone one of the best in the world, Hazard needs a coming of age performance in Russia. While Salah was busy firing his team to a Champions League final, Hazard was busy leading Chelsea to a pathetic 5th place finish.

In the World Cup group stages, Belgium will face off with England, Panama and Tunisia, the Belgians will fully expect to finish top of the group, thus securing them an easier knockout stage draw.

Put quite frankly, there’s no excuse for Hazard not to perform in Russia. He has world-class players around him, the system is also built around him and he’s now an experienced player.  For goodness sake, Hazard isn’t a youngster anymore, a matter of fact he’s in his physical prime. At 27 years of age, the Chelsea man has scored 136 goals in his career, now it’s time for him to showcase that form on the biggest of stages.

Eden Hazard is an exceptional dribbler, creative mastermind, composed passer and great at linking up with others. He’s the heartbeat for this Belgium team when he wants to be. He’s Europe’s best dribbler, averaging 4.7 successful take-ons a game. We need to see that skill in Russia or it can be concluded that the Belgian is just a show pony with no substance.

I’d like to believe that after having a mediocre league season with Chelsea, Hazard would be doing all he can to have a stellar World Cup. After that, he could then focus on a dream move to the Bernabéu.

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