I’m ready to emulate Messi, Neymar & James – Hazard

The Belgium forward hopes he can step up his game to match the World Cup’s star men and fire the Red Devils into the quarter-finals
Eden Hazardsays he is ready to become one of the World Cup’s biggest stars by drawing inspiration from the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and James Rodriguez.

His Belgium side face USA in Salvador on Tuesday with the reward a place in the quarter-finals, and Hazard insists he will deliver his best form in a bid to match what he has seen from the star trio so far.

“I have looked at what the other stars have done and try to take as much inspiration from them as possible,” Hazard told reporters at Belgium’s training base, just outside Sao Paulo.

“Have I been impressed by Messi, Neymar and Rodriguez? Of course I have been, and I know there are many good players in my position.

“As for my tournament so far, I rate it at 50-50. I have been decisive for the group, but in terms of consistency I can do better.

“I hope it will be the case from now on, but I know you will see the best Eden.”

While Hazard has not been on top form to this point, he delivered match-winning assists in his two starts in Group H, and he says that is partly down to his cool head in all situations.

“Do I feel the pressure? No, it remains the same. I know there are a lot of people watching me but I will deal with that in the same way I approach all the other games, and just make sure I give the best of myself.

“I have no idea what people think of me and my performances in the tournament so far, but I always try to give the maximum I can to the team.

“I just want to be good so that our team can continue our adventure together.”

Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA were one of the surprise qualifiers for the Round of 16, and Hazard is certain that they carry a threat for the Red Devils.

“It is true that a lot of people thought we would play Portugal, or perhaps Ghana. But USA have shown they are a very good team.

“They have a lot of qualities and we know we will have to be serious and show our best.

“They are a very physical team, but if they foul me a lot it means I am having a good day – and I hope they do because it will mean we get lots of free-kicks and scoring opportunities.

 “They are a great team but we will carefully analyse their strengths and weaknesses – and we will win.”

The Round of 16 clash kicks-off at 22:00CET on Tuesday at the Arena Fonte Nova, with the winner meeting Argentina or Switzerland in the last eight.