herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Hazard aims to make presence felt against US

Eden Hazard knows it's time to live up to his name at the World Cup, and to make sure the United States knows what that stands for tonight.

The Belgian playmaker is aware his country is counting on a match-long display of Hazard dazzle against the United States.

The Chelsea star acknowledges that "in this World Cup I have yet to play a great match, even if I had good moves which were decisive."

And the instructions from coach Marc Wilmots are clear because he expects Harzard "to take charge of the match" and "impose himself as a leader." Belgium have escaped with two victories in the games Hazard was starting, each time with the playmaker providing decisive assists. Before that, in each game, he was playing below par.

While team captain Vincent Kompany has been excellent in the two games he's played, the central defender has been struggling with a recurring groin strain and is a doubt for tonight's game.

"We will have to assess it, how he moves," said Wilmots, adding his recovery was on schedule. "I cannot play him if he is 80 percent only."

Another starter, Thomas Vermaelen, has a hamstring injury and has resumed individual exercises. Whether he can play or not will be another last-minute decision.

RETURN

Meanwhile, Jozy Altidore is available to play for the United States, but it does not appear the forward is ready to return to the starting line-up.

US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said during a news conference yesterday that "it's now difficult to say how many minutes."

Altidore strained his left hamstring in the Americans' opener against Ghana on June 16 and didn't appear in their next two games. He has been working out on his own.

Aron Johannsson replaced Altidore for the remainder of the game against Ghana, and Klinsmann switched from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-5-1 against Portugal and Germany.

Klinsmann added: "Just having him with us is huge."

BELGIUM v USA, LIVE RTE2 (KO 9.0)

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