Hazard says he’s back to 100% for Euros
LAUSANNE: Belgium star Eden Hazard insisted on Friday he is back on top form after a frustrating season for Chelsea in the Premier League.
Hazard will captain Belgium at Euro 2016, which starts in two weeks, as Manchester City centre-back Vincent Kompany misses the tournament due to a groin injury.
But after a campaign in which he took until the last day of January to score his first goal following a 30-match drought, while his first successful strike in the league only arrived a month ago, he’s feeling bullish ahead of the European Championships which start in France on June 10.
“Everyone knows the season I’ve just had, I’m not going to repeat that I’ve had a bad season, it’s over,” he said.
“The last match in which I gave everything was against PSG in the Champions League (in March), after that I was injured.
“The injury broke up my season a little bit but also allowed me to come back at 100 percent.
“Then I finished the season well with Chelsea. I’m arriving at the Euros at 100 percent, at full strength — hopefully it will go well.”
Hazard not only wants to make up for a poor club season but also for not having been at his best two years ago at the World Cup in Brazil, where Belgium lost 1-0 to eventual beaten-finalists Argentina in the quarter-finals.
“Two years ago everyone expected a lot from me, maybe I didn’t meet those expectations,” he said.
“People will be waiting for Belgium and waiting for me (to deliver) but we’ll give our utmost.”
They will have to do it without Kompany, though.
“Obviously we’ve lost our captain, the leader of the team — that’s not easy, like France who’ve lost (Raphael) Varane.
“But, honestly, we have quality in defence and everyone in the team is ready.
“Nearly everyone is at 100 percent, we’re not worried. And up front, we have maybe the best generation (of players in Belgium).”
Even so, Hazard stopped short of branding Belgium as favourites, despite being the highest ranked European team — at second behind Argentina — in the FIFA list.
“Favourites, no, I don’t think so. France are playing at home, Spain, Germany and then maybe we’re just behind.”