Eden Hazard's terrible horrible no good very bad season will end somewhere in France, as Belgium attempt to live up to their billing and make a deep run at this summer's Euro 2016 tournament. Unfortunately for the Red Devils and their manager Marc Wilmots, several key members of the squad are either dealing with injuries (Kompany, De Bruyne), are not having good seasons (Courtois, Benteke), or both (Hazard, the eldest). Not exactly ideal preparation, though Wilmots is doing his utmost to try to take pressure off his key stars.
"I have a very interesting relationship with [Hazard]. He had a phase for four or five years when he did not stop playing at all. And then a little injury, a little incident, the first time he had been injured, a new experience for him. But I have no doubt he is a player of very high quality. As Chelsea has been doing better, he has been doing better."
I suppose it's all relative, but this "better" Hazard is still nowhere near the Hazard of last season or even the one we saw at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
"The players who are having difficulties in their clubs learn a lot. When things are difficult, we learn. It is true that an attacker [like Benteke] does not play, especially as we have other players in that position. It is annoying for him; he is not happy. But it is like that in big clubs: the coach has to choose, and for the moment [Jürgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager] does not choose Christian."
"These things happen. I have other players. The way of playing remains the same. I will find alternatives. I am not the sort of coach to cry and find excuses. I go forward with the people I have. It is a shame, but it is life. What is important is the team, not the individual player. One of our biggest successes here is that there is no ‘I' here, only us. Us together."
-Marc Wilmots; source: The Times
Sounds great in theory, though Hazard at his best is nigh irreplaceable. Surely, both Wilmots and whoever will be Chelsea's new coach will be hoping that we might yet see this mythical being who used to single-handedly win games for club and country.
Belgium will be taking on Portugal in Leiria on Tuesday. The only Chelsea representative will be Courtois.