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Eden Hazard's Belgium take 3 points home from Serbia - Eden Hazard's Website

Eden Hazard’s Belgium take 3 points home from Serbia

Oct 12, 2012 Comments Off by

A tough game it was! Really! The very young, but talented Serbian players demonstrated why Belgium still has to learn a bit before duelling with the absolute top. Serbia played the ball so fast, Belgium couldn’t get the ball. And when they had, they lost it in a matter of seconds. Technically strong players like Witsel, Hazard, and Dembélé suddenly  looked like juniors while trying to hold the ball.

A lot of luck, and a great Belgian goalkeeper in the goal prevented Serbia from scoring once, twice or more (don’t good goalkeepers force the “luck” to happen?) But there is a law in football that says, if you don’t score from many opportunities, your opponent will score at any occasion. And so it happened: A great cross from De Bruyne and Benteke scored the 0-1.  Belgium had some other small opportunities, but all Belgian fans were relieved to take a break after 45 minutes with 0-1. “Time for the bathroom and a beer to relax a little.”

Dries Mertens (left) is playing in "Hazard-style" in the Belgian team

Hazard has an off-day? No worries, there is Dries Mertens (left) to play in “Hazard-style” in the Belgian team.

Same scenario in the second half, but after 10 minutes it was noticed that Serbia had used too much gunpowder in the first half, and Belgium was able to get a hold of  the ball, and launch some counter-attacks. Kevin De Bruyne suddenly presented Eden Hazard with a beautiful present, and Eden found himself in a 1-vs-1 with the keeper. “Easy job for Hazard” everyone was thinking out loud. Hazard tried to tip the ball with style over the keeper. Bad choice however: the keeper touched the ball with his hands, and the ball went wide.  All Belgian fans angry and shouting: this hád to be 0-2, especially when our most talented player, Hazard, gets a chance like this.

Instead of Eden Hazard being the hero of the day, and loved and cherished by everybody because he made the 0-2, ánd giving Serbia a knock-out; the opposite happened: coach Wilmots suddenly called upon Dries Mertens – and substituted Eden Hazard.

Wilmots: “Delighted? No. We’re nowhere if we lose our 3 points next week against Scotland. We have to stay cool, and focus on the next game.”

Dries Mertens, who has a very similar profile to Eden (even physically), said Thank You, and made a furious start. The Belgian team started to combine better, leaving Serbia suddenly gasping for air. From hero to zero for Hazard, and from zero to hero for Mertens. Well, that’s football, isn’t it?

serbia-belgium-0-3

Serbia – Belgium: 0 – 3

On a beautiful counter Kevin De Bruyne showed his remarkable talent. With a rush of 30 meters he ran and simply executed the goalkeeper: 0-2. Serbia tried to make the goal of hope, but was too tired and remained unsuccessful in beating Courtois. in the 89th minute, De Bruyne was replaced by Mirallas, who scored from offside in minute 92. 0-3! Any fan trying a lucky bet on a 0-3 win for Belgium during the first 15 minutes would have won quite some money.

It has to be said that coach Wilmots’ starting eleven, and tactical plan were good. Moreover, his substitutions were working out great. Except for not using the last substitution, (Timmy Simons could have been used to reinforce the organisation, or replacing Chadli with Lombaerts or Defour to assist the battle in the middle) he did great coaching.  While previously his tactical understanding was seriously questioned by this website, he has shown to be able to read the game, and apply corrections if necessary. Nevertheless, he hás to keep Daniel Van Buyten away from starting in crucial games! This is not optional.

Serbia - Belgium 0-3

Match overview Serbia – Belgium 0-3

Football analysts concluded after the game that Belgium started to play better when Eden was substituted by Mertens. And Eden can’t complain: he got “Carte Blanche” from Wilmots to lead the counter attack: he only had to concentrate on the offensive, without defensive responsibility. Unfortunately, Eden wasn’t playing his best game today, and ironically that helped Serbia greatly in overpowering Belgium in the first 20 minutes.

Observation: It appears the Belgian team has recently gained a great deal of maturity, and is acting as 1 team, playing more intelligent, and with Wilmots as natural leader. Respect!

Special moment: During the interview after the game, a journalist remarked that Belgium started to play better without Hazard in the team. Coach Wilmots impressively replied: “Listen, there is no need to start any conflicts within my team. We have great players on the bench, and we have 22 great players that deserve a spot in the first team“.  On the question if he was delighted with the result Wilmots replied ice-cold: “We’re nowhere if we lose our 3 points next week against Scotland. We stay cool, and focus first on the next game”. Apparently no euphoria either in the Belgian locker room. Remarkable!

Marc Wilmots Coaching

Marc Wilmots Coaching

It appears the Belgian team has recently gained a great deal of maturity, and is acting as 1 team, playing more intelligent, and with Wilmots as natural leader. Respect.

Is Wilmots pulling the same stunt he did as a player? From being a very average, sometimes shortsighted, and technically limited attacker with a bad aim, during the first part of his career, he went through a transformation, finding himself at the end of his career as a true leader and strong captain of the Belgian national team. He started playing remarkable games, with highlights at the World cup in 2002 where Belgium almost eliminated Brazil, and winning the UEFA cup with Schalke 04, again as captain ánd scoring the only  - fantastic – goal.

It’s too early to say, but Wilmots has scored many good points today, with the press, with the fans, but more importantly with the players that stand behind him, and would apparently “eat grass for him” if necessary. Not many national coaches are able to achieve this.

Is Wilmots pulling the same stunt he did as a player?

We sure hope that Serbia is able to generate the same pressure at home, and beat Croatia.

Belgium won a VERY important game today, and succeeded in this test. Next game: Belgium – Scotland, next Tuesday on the 16th of October.

Current game standing

Current game standing

Wilmots now has a dilemma: show his confidence in Hazard, and put him in the starting eleven in the next game, or replace him by Mertens. Putting Hazard to start, would be a sign of having “balls” and would make him gain a lot of respect by Hazard and the team. Putting Mertens however would be a logical choice… A second conclusion is: unless Eden Hazard is in super shape, it is very possible, that during critical away games to come (in Croatia, Macedonia), Wilmots will opt for more defensive balance in the team, and count on Hazard as a super-sub(stitute).

Sounds fair to us, because Hazard could have been more useful in the second half, when there was at least twice as much space for counter attacks, simply because the Serbians were too tired.

 

 

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