ST PETERSBURG – Belgium captain Eden Hazard stated his quite a few ankle fractures meant it could never be the same because it was 10 years in the past but he was determined to show he might nonetheless carry out on the highest stage on the European Championship.
Hazard will begin for the primary time in Euro 2020 in his nation’s final Group B match in opposition to Finland in St Petersburg on Monday, his coach Roberto Martinez confirmed. But the 28-year-old attacker stated he won’t be able to compete the complete 90 minutes.
“I never doubted my qualities, but whether I would be 100% fit for the European Championship was going to be a question. I broke my ankle three times, it will never be the same as 10 years ago. But I know that when I am in shape, that I can prove myself on the field and that’s what I’m working on now.
“I’m not 100% but, but I’m prepared to start out. But that was the plan, to carry me alongside step by step. It’s particularly necessary to be fully match within the knockout part. Then I’ve to be in high form.”
Two wins out of two for Belgium mean they are through to the last 16, and Martinez is using the game against the Finns to ensure Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Axel Witsel, also back from injury, get more game time.
“We will see how the match goes, but I may not be prepared for 90 minutes. But I’ll play as many minutes as doable at a excessive stage. If it’s 50 minutes, it should be 50. If it’s 60, it should be 60. We’ll see,” he told a news conference on Sunday.
Hazard was used a substitute in Belgium’s opening games, a thumping 3-0 win over Russia in St Petersburg and a come-from-behind win over Denmark in Copenhagen. He had been a fitness doubt in Belgium’s pre-tournament preparations after an injury-filled season at Real Madrid.
Top-ranked Belgium, one of the Euro 2020 favourites, are expected to win the group and keep on track for the title, but Hazard said thoughts of a first major title for the country were still some way off.
“We nonetheless need to work to get higher. We are doing our greatest to get higher, beginning with tomorrow. The match remains to be lengthy and we try to get so far as doable. There are nonetheless areas for enchancment, but we’re working with them.”