Eden Hazard backed by Belgium coach Roberto Martinez to rediscover best form in 2021

Roberto Martinez has tipped Eden Hazard to bounce back and show the “best version” of himself in 2021 after a frustrating year for Real Madrid and Belgium.

The 29-year-old was forced to miss his country’s three games against Switzerland, England and Denmark in this international break after a positive coronavirus test earlier this month.

Belgium boss Martinez rued Hazard’s misfortune and put the player’s personal frustrations down to simple bad luck.

“We have been unfortunate, we are missing out by a few days,” Martinez said.

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“Eden was looking forward to meet up in this camp, he was looking forward to playing [for] the Red Devils in 2020 and unfortunately he had a lot of bad luck.”

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Testing positive for coronavirus, alongside Real Madrid team-mate Casemiro, has compounded a difficult period domestically for Hazard, who first moved to the Bernabeu in 2019 in a deal that could rise to £130m.

By Hazard’s own admission, his first season in Spain was “bad” – a campaign blighted by the combined disruption of injury setbacks and the stoppage brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Martinez has backed Hazard to use those frustrations to make next year a memorable one for Belgium, as they head into a packed 2021 headlined by the rescheduled European Championships.

“I just can see it, I think 2021 is going to be a wonderful year for Eden Hazard and for all the Red Devils fans,” Martinez said.

“He is in good spirits and is looking forward to getting back as quick as he can to play football again. I have got no doubt that in 2021 we are going to see the best version of Eden Hazard.”

Martinez was speaking as Belgium prepare to face Denmark in their final game of the Nations League group stage, knowing that avoiding defeat will seal their spot in the finals.

The world No 1 side, who beat England 2-0 on Sunday, top the group two points ahead of Wednesday’s opponents.

Asked whether Belgium’s approach will be a cautious one against the Danes, the 47-year-old insisted they will enter the game with the same mindset because to do otherwise is not in their DNA.

Martinez said: “I think the approach is the same, the approach is to try to be as good as we can and perform the game to try to win it.

“Obviously at the end of the game the result will tell us where we are.

“We are not a team that we can afford to approach a game going for a draw.

“I don’t think we are used to it, I don’t think we would know how to do it and that’s the way we are going to approach the game, to try to play as well as we can and to be on the front foot from the beginning to try to win it.”

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