Hazard will have a 'fabulous' 2021, predicts Martinez

By Sports Desk November 17, 2020

Eden Hazard will have a "fabulous" 2021 after missing out on Belgium's final games of this year with coronavirus, according to Roberto Martinez.

Since completing a €100million move to Real Madrid in June 2019, Hazard has been beset by injury problems and limited to just 25 appearances in all competitions.

He has scored two goals and supplied four assists for Los Blancos, after a final campaign at Chelsea in which he registered 16 goals and 15 assists in the Premier League alone.

A muscle injury meant his first outing of 2020-21 did not come until October 27 and three games into his return he tested positive for coronavirus.  

Hazard was again positive for COVID-19 at the weekend and will consequently miss Belgium's crunch Nations League Group A2 clash with Denmark.

However, Martinez is confident the 29-year-old will soon return to his previous heights and play an important role for Madrid and Belgium.

"Eden really wanted to join us and play the last three games in 2020," said Martinez on Tuesday.

"He has had a really complicated year. I am convinced that 2021 will be a fabulous year for Eden Hazard, and also the national team."

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois added: "It's a shame he'll miss this match, but we have enough quality to win without him.

"The group has more experience, we know what we have to improve. We have one of the best teams in the world."

Martinez will also be without the suspended duo Axel Witsel and Thomas Meunier for the meeting in Heverlee, where a point will be enough for Belgium to qualify for the Nations League Finals.

"We are not going to focus on the absentees. I am looking at the players that will have the chance to put themselves forward, to seize an opportunity," said Martinez.

"I have many solutions to compensate for the absences of Wistel and Meunier. There is Thomas Foket, Thorgan Hazard and Nacer Chadli among others.

"Denmark are a very strong team but we want to participate in the Finals so we will do everything to win. We are not going to aim for a draw. We have to win for the fans and to end the year on a good note."

Belgium missed out on a place in the inaugural Nations League Finals in 2019 after losing their final group game against Switzerland 5-2.

Courtois insists they have learned from that performance and know they cannot take Denmark lightly.

"We know their strengths and weaknesses. If they win, they will quality. We have to show intensity from the first minute to the last, be careful and focused. We will not easily win this game 4-0," said Courtois.

"We had relaxed a bit that day [against Switzerland], it's true. We learned from that match. We are ready for Wednesday."

Related items

  • Flick 'not entirely happy' with Bayern display in 4-0 win Flick 'not entirely happy' with Bayern display in 4-0 win

    Hansi Flick can still see room for improvement from his Bayern Munich side despite brushing aside Schalke 4-0 to move seven points clear at the top of the Bundesliga.

    The reigning champions capitalised on RB Leipzig's shock defeat at Mainz by seeing off Schalke, the division's bottom side, at the Veltins-Arena on Sunday.

    Thomas Muller scored either side of Robert Lewandowski's record-breaking goal - netting in an eighth successive away league match - before David Alaba got in on the act in the final minute.

    Bayern did not have things all their own way in the first half, though, with Manuel Neuer reacting well to keep out Mark Uth's header from the best of Schalke's opportunities.

    Flick is pleased his side have rediscovered their form with three wins in a row since suffering back-to-back losses earlier this month, but he acknowledged there is still more to come.

    "I'm not entirely happy with what we showed," he told Sky Sport. "We scored four goals, but we should have done better, especially with the way we positioned ourselves.

    "However, I am very satisfied with the nine points with have obtained from the last three games. After defeats to Holstein Kiel [in the DFB-Pokal] and Monchengladbach, it was important to find stability.

    "We now have a certain cushion, but it is still important that we approach every game the way we have approached the last few games, that we perform 100 per cent. 

    "We're going to take two days off now. This is important to clear your head from time to time. From Wednesday, we will then prepare intensively for Hoffenheim."

    Bayern have now kept clean sheets in successive league games for the first time this term, with Neuer making three saves in total - all in the first half.

    Neuer's 197th shutout is a new Bundesliga record, surpassing Bayern great Oliver Kahn, but it was bittersweet coming against his beleaguered boyhood club.

    Schalke are bottom of the division with one win from 18 games but Neuer is hopeful they can avoid the drop.

    "Obviously, it's difficult for them against teams like us," he said. "I think that they have to beat two or three clubs that are in the lower half of the table, one after the other.

    "I wish the Schalke players luck that they can stay in the league and that they can still turn the tide. Of course, I'll keep my fingers crossed for that."

    Of his own team's display, which saw Bayern register a season-high 31 shots, Neuer said: "We improved and still had one or two more scoring chances. 

    "We certainly would have signed for a 4-0 win beforehand."

    Meanwhile, Muller's double took him to nine goals in 18 Bundesliga games this season, already beating his tally from the entirety of 2019-20.

    The forward, who scored a clinical header in each half, echoed the thoughts of Flick in saying his side were slightly flattered by the margin of the scoreline.

    "We neglected some aspects of our game," Muller said. "We besieged the opposing goal in the first half, played a few chances well, but the last action was missing.

    "Overall, you noticed that when we increased the pace and played our game, we were always able to get ourselves into good final positions. 

    "We have won all three games this week and made a giant leap forward in the table. That is what counts."

  • De Jong 'not sure' if Barcelona can still win LaLiga De Jong 'not sure' if Barcelona can still win LaLiga

    Frenkie de Jong is unsure of Barcelona's title credentials despite their improving LaLiga form.

    De Jong scored the opener and created a late second for substitute Riqui Puig during Sunday's 2-0 win at Elche.

    That made it four wins out of four for Barca in Spain's top flight since the turn of the year, although they will be 10 points behind Atletico Madrid having played a game more if the leaders are able to beat Valencia in Sunday's late kick-off.

    "I'm not sure," he told LaLiga TV when asked whether Ronald Koeman's side are back in the title race.

    "We have to win our games and we'll see where we end up towards the end of the season."

    Nevertheless, the Netherlands midfielder has no doubt Barca are an improved side after a tough start to life under his former national team boss Koeman.

    "Since the new year we're a lot better and we've played most of the games away from home and won all of them in LaLiga. We're in a better moment," De Jong said.

    "I think [beating Elche] will do us good, we've worked hard, especially now in the new year. We're growing and improving as a team and hopefully we can keep improving."

    De Jong's tally of five goals across his season-and-a-half with Barca has already bettered his total of Eredivisie strikes for Ajax (four) across five campaigns, and the 23-year-old also feels that the imperative to improve applies to him personally, even after a man-of-the-match display.

    "Yes, I do think I can play better but it’s not only about goals and assists," he added. "Of course I'm happy but there's more to come."

  • Elche 0-2 Barcelona: De Jong keeps Koeman's men in title hunt Elche 0-2 Barcelona: De Jong keeps Koeman's men in title hunt

    Frenkie de Jong played a prominent role as Barcelona beat LaLiga strugglers Elche 2-0 to stay in touch with the leading pack.

    Lionel Messi completed his two-match suspension for a red card during the Supercopa de Espana defeat to Athletic Bilbao and Barca struggled to create clear chances in his absence against well-organised opponents.

    But an error from Diego Gonzalez allowed De Jong to take advantage in the 39th-minute – the Netherlands international unlikely to score an easier one than his fifth LaLiga goal.

    A minute from time, De Jong then turned provider as he crossed for Riqui Puig to head home, ensuring Barca are three points behind Real Madrid, although they will be 10 points shy of Atletico Madrid again if the leaders are able to beat Valencia later on Sunday.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.