- Hasn't found best form for Los Blancos
- But still key to Belgium's plans
- Martinez expects him to shine in Qatar
WHAT HAPPENED? For the fourth major tournament in a row, Belgium are considered among the favourites to end their trophy drought in next month's World Cup. The key members of the squad - who have made up their 'Golden Generation' over the last decade or so - won't have many more chances to get their hands on international silverware, including the older of the two Hazard brothers.
WHAT HE SAID: Asked about one of the breakthrough members of the squad, Martinez quickly turned attention to the Real Madrid forward. He told VTM Nieuws (via HLN): "Leandro Trossard is rightly spoken of. But there can be no discussion about the importance of Eden to the national team, with his career and experience. He was one of the key players in 2018 - that is also an important experience.
“The last two years have been particularly challenging for Eden. At the European Championships he was not pain free, but he did help the team at times. I think of those 60 minutes against Portugal. We should not underestimate what a fit and fresh Hazard can bring.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Heading into the tournament, there will be plenty of questions asked about Hazard's readiness for a starting berth given his lack of game time at Real Madrid over the last few years. Although, judging by Martinez's comments, he will be handed the opportunity to refind the quality he has shown for club and country previously.
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WHAT NEXT FOR HAZARD? The 31-year-old may get more opportunities to build match fitness ahead of the Qatar World Cup as Madrid still have four matches to play. With the prospect of international glory up ahead, he will be doing everything he can to impress Carlo Ancelotti and, in turn, Martinez.