This World Cup has turned into an abattoir for the stars of the game. The carnage includes Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, two men who eclipse their sport but whose teams were mortally wounded on Saturday. Sunday didn’t improve things, with Spain’s stellar cast of Iniesta, Diego Costa, Sergio Ramos and David de Gea unable to outlast the indefatigable hosts and shot-out on penalties. One-season sensation Mohamed Salah was already bounced in the group stage, as were Germany’s star-studded collective. Almost half of the 2017 Ballon d’Or top 20 are out.
There are plenty of big stars still standing of course. There’s Neymar, first and foremost. And Harry Kane. Luis Suarez might be good for a shout. Even casual fans now know the name Kylian Mbappé. No doubt we all have a favorite or two.
But on Sunday it was put to Eden Hazard that the mantle of being the competition’s biggest name now rests on his shoulders. In a sign of his ambition, he didn’t hide from it.
Eden Hazard on being the star in absence of Messi-Ronaldo at the #WorldCup: "I hope so, they're not in the World Cup, so now it's time to shine. Yeah, I just want to go through the quarter-final, semi-final and maybe the final." #BEL #JPN— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) July 1, 2018
At 27 years of age, Hazard doubtless sees that he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning. He’s becoming impatient for success. Talented players stand in his way but Eden is hoping that all of that experience, eleven years of senior team football and counting, will pay off.
“I am not the only one of course. Messi and Ronaldo, they are out, but there are still a lot of good players at the World Cup. We will see at the end what happens.’
“I am a lot stronger than two years ago - or four years ago in Brazil, definitely. I have a lot more experience. Four years ago it was our first major competition, all of us together. France was our second one - and knockout matches have a lot to do with experience.”
-Eden Hazard; source: Mail
Hazard’s had a no-nonsense attitude since the World Cup began. As captain of his national team he’s been willing to challenge his best players to do better. He’s also been assertive about what he expects from Chelsea before he’ll sign a new deal.
We like this confident, pushy Eden Hazard, the all-business Eden Hazard. We hope he’s the one who also shows up for Chelsea when Belgium’s World Cup odyssey, which sees them take on Japan in the Round of 16 tonight, finally ends.