Belgium coach Roberto Martinez believes playmaker Eden Hazard is in a good state of mind and is not worried about the few minutes he has spent at Real Madrid this season ahead of the Nations League matches against Wales and the Netherlands.
Hazard is likely to play a big role for Belgium at the World Cup in Qatar, but he may have to prove his level and fitness with the national team as he only made one start in Madrid and played less than 100 minutes in La Liga. This campaign.
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“It’s good,” Martinez told reporters on Wednesday. “You always have the same question, ‘Has he played enough minutes? “.But he never missed a training session and was really good behind the scenes.
“The few minutes and the playing time is there, but he’s in a good mentality and looks forward to being on the field. I see energy and happiness around Eden, which I hadn’t seen six months ago.”
Martinez admits those two games into the international break are crucial for the 31-year-old in terms of building him up to be ready for Qatar, but says Hazard is unlikely to play the full 90 minutes in either.
“We will see how it is with the national team, we will evaluate it and then we have seven weeks to the World Cup,” the coach said. “I don’t give us a specific target [of minutes for him to play].
“It will depend on the tempo of the match and if we can see him grow from the 60-minute mark. The decision will be made on how the match will go and his performance.”
Martinez is expecting a tough clash with Wales in Brussels on Thursday as Belgium seek to keep their hopes of the Nations League final, trailing leaders Holland by three points.
“They have a system that they have been developing for a long time. They have additional competitiveness and a team that qualified for the World Cup,” Martinez said.
“We expect the same high intensity match, a little British match [in style]. They play through you, they are direct and they put a lot of pressure in the penalty area. They are a team you can’t relax against.”
Belgium kick off their World Cup Group F matches against Canada on November 23 before facing Morocco and Croatia in a bid to reach the Round of 16.