Belgium winger Eden Hazard has praised Roberto Martinez ahead of his countries semi-final against France on Tuesday evening. Hazard has heaped praise on the Spaniard and hailed the former Everton boss for his tactical plan that saw the Red Devils edge out the five-time World Champions Brazil 2-1 in the quarter-finals in an exclusive interview with beIN SPORTS.
“I think after our game against Japan, we discussed and we talked with the coach; we concluded that if we played the same way against Brazil, we would lose the game. The players talked a lot amongst each other; I do not know if some players talked to the coach individually, but I think the coach understood everything quickly.”
Noted Hazard, after Belgium’s sensational last-gasp 3-2 round of sixteen win against Japan. Whilst Hazard also added that the plan was quickly made for Brazil in the first training session after the game against the Samurai Blue.
“We had a training session of less than 45 minutes in which we understood everything the coach wanted, which is a tight defence that would force Brazil to open spaces for us, and this what happened especially in the first half.”
The Chelsea star spoke exclusively with beIN SPORTS ahead of the game in Saint Petersburg, and clear from the start he was unable to divulge on tactical details for his side.
“I cannot tell you everything, because we might apply the same plan against France. However, the coach told us that we have to stay in two areas, Romelu Lukaku on the right and I on the left, and we shouldn’t go back to the defense.”
Hazard did admit that he was initially unsure of the tactical tweek from Martinez, but eventually realised that the plan would be able to trouble the Selecao.
“In the beginning of the match I was a bit surprised by such recommendations, and I thought to myself: if we defended against Brazil with only two players, things might get complicated. But after five minutes, I understood why the coach asked us to do that, that’s why I say that it's all thanks to the coach; it was he who created this plan and knew how to implement it.”
Reflecting on the game in Kazan, Hazard added that this may well have been the best game that he has ever played during his career.
“When you play such a game against Brazil in the World Cup quarter-finals, I can tell you that it was the best game in terms of feelings and emotions. But I played many, many wonderful matches with Chelsea, Lille and with the Belgian team; however, in general, this is the best game I've played so far in my career.”
Looking forward to the Wednesday evening clash in Saint Petersburg, the 27-year old suggested that despite playing well against Brazil, that the challenge posed by France will be a completely different challenge for the Red Devils.
“I think the two teams are very different. Brazil attack constantly; when it comes to defence, their structure is not always at its best; this has allowed us to play such an excellent match, especially on the counter-attacks. The French team has less possession, but in defence, the French team is stronger.”
Hazard is also set to renew rivalries with Chelsea team-mates N'Golo Kanté & Olivier Giroud but the Belgian winger suggested that despite having quality all over the pitch, that his country are ready to fight for their place in a first ever World Cup Final.
“France may have conceded 3 to Argentina but that doesn't mean they haven't got a solid defence. They have an outstanding goalkeeper, strong defenders, and in the midfield, they have N'Golo Kanté, who is the best player in the world in his position. They have Griezmann in attack, Kylian Mbappé, who conjures miracles, and Olivier Giroud as a striker who is also one of the best players in the world in his role. Individual skills are always shown, but team play is the characteristic of the French play. Also, the coach Didier Deschamps is used to victories. The game will be complicated but we are ready for it.”
Can Belgium follow up their quarter-final win over Brazil by dumping out the 1998 World Cup winners and book their place in the final? You can watch France Vs Belgium Live & Exclusive via beIN SPORTS CONNECT.