What Went Wrong With Hazard?
With the 2014 World Cup now whittled down to the last four as we reach the stage where dreams are realized and hopes are shattered, those who are already on the plane home can reflect on what went wrong.
Before the tournament started I had this gut-feeling that Belgium would be one of those sides that could go all the way. With the amount of talent Marc Wilmots had at his disposal I really could see glory beckoning, but it never quite happened.
Although reaching the last eight is a decent enough performance things didn`t quite click as far as Belgium were concerned, they had all the piece parts but couldn`t get firing on all cylinders.
Amongst the Belgians expected to make a huge impact was our very own Eden Hazard. Tipped by many to be ready to jump into the elite group of footballers labeled as amongst the best in the world, a group that contains the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi; Eden rarely reached the heights expected to warrant inclusion amongst such greats.
In fact I`d hazard a guess that Eden, on the journey home, would be giving a lot of thought as to how his game has gone off the boil, how the simple things that lead to the delightful runs he`s capable now seem so hard to muster.
Sure the heat might have had something to do with it, sure the fact that his reputation meant he was always going to be marked by more than one player, sure he received little protection from the referees when it came to being fouled, but I seriously believed that this World Cup would see Eden became acknowledged as the next great thing.
Perhaps he didn`t get the best of service, perhaps the rub of the green was his, perhaps it just wasn`t meant to be, but was the writing on the wall before he even set off for Brazil?
The reason I ask is that it seems a long time since Eden mesmerized Sunderland and was described by Gus Poyet as unplayable on the night, it seems along time since Eden got anywhere near the pinnacle of personal performance displayed at the Stadium of Light.
Perhaps there are mitigating circumstances. Perhaps the rigours of the Premier League allied with the stream of knocks he received last season have taken their toll.
Perhaps all the talk of Paris St Germain being interested in making Eden their next big-money signing have taken the edge off of his game.
Or perhaps, just perhaps, he`s not really as good as we think he is!
Please prove us wrong Eden and illuminate the Premier League next season, you now you can do it!