In an elimination game, there can, by definition, be only one winner, and that magic moment belonged to France on Tuesday night, with Samuel Umtiti’s set piece goal proving the difference between the two best sides left in the competition.
Crestfallen Eden Hazard completed his duties as national team captain with the usual post-match interview with media back home, but there was little in the way of the usual as far as the method by which this occurred was concerned.
Here’s Eden Hazard, on the set of La Une in Belgium ... except Hazard was not in Belgium, but in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Belgian TV interviewing a crestfallen Eden Hazard's hologram afterwards. RTE would need smaller desks in order to deploy this technology. And it'd render @Corktod redundant so I'm against this "progress". pic.twitter.com/yLBNuGovap— Ro-Ro-Rosputin...Russia’s Greatest Goal Machine (@Mr_Ro_Jangles) July 10, 2018
Belgian TV’s hologram machine was back! A glimpse of the future of sports coverage? Possibly!
Alas, that bit of magic aside, Hazard was left to reflect on Belgium’s inability to find the magic spark.
“We did not find their weak point. That little moment of magic needed to score was not there. I think we did not play bad. We had control of the play without being dangerous. We could have done better, but that did not happen. You cannot forget the good of this World Cup. We have seen a fantastic Belgian team and have been eliminated by a team that was more solid than us. Everyone has given a hundred percent. Nobody has held back himself.”
Generous words from Eden, who was one of the few Red Devils to show the quality that had gotten them to this point. Unfortunately for them, it was not enough and no one donned a proverbial Magic Hat.
Hazard, who’s well familiar with this type of defending in the Premier League, gave reluctant credit to France, but rued his team’s inability to get on the scoresheet.
“I am disappointed because we deserved more. I prefer to lose with Belgium, then win with this France. They played as they have done all the time under Deschamps: defend and lurk on the counter. But it works, especially with their efficiency.
”Anyway, we are very proud of our course. We have shown Belgium what we can do. As a captain of this group, I must be satisfied with what we have achieved. Whether we were tired after the match against Brazil? No, everyone was 100%. If we score first, we win today.”
-Eden Hazard; source: HLN via Google Translate
Belgium will still contest the useless spectacle of the third place match on Saturday, after which the players will head on holidays to reflect, repair, and recharge. Will Hazard come back to a brand new Chelsea after that? Will he come back at all? Will he sign the contract extension?
Now these are the questions that will dominate the Hazard narrative.
P.S.: If you want to see the hologram in action, slight transmission delays and all, here’s Hazard’s post-match interview from Belgium’s 2-0 win over Brazil in the quarterfinal. There’s no way this isn’t catching on.