Belgium captain Eden Hazard wants more of the same from Romelu Lukaku against Tunisia

Alex Broun 20:08 21/06/2018
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Hazard seemed destined for a move away from Chelsea after a stellar World Cup.

The Red Devils of Belgium cruised to a 3-0 victory over Panama in their opening fixture thanks to a double from Romelu Lukaku and a single from Dries Martens.

While Tunisia were desperately unlucky to give up a late winner to Harry Kane in their opener against England.

Here are our talking points ahead of the two teams meeting at Spartak Stadium in Moscow in a Group G clash on Saturday at 16:00 (UAE time).

Can Tunisia stop the horror show for MENA sides?

It’s been a nightmare tournament so far for teams from the Middle East and Africa. Starting with Saudi Arabia’s disastrous 5-0 loss to Russia in the opening match through to Egypt’s exit at the hands of the same opponent.

All of the first three teams to exit from the tournament were all from the MENA region – Saudia Arabia, Egypt and the luckless Morocco.

For now Iran, Nigeria and Senegal are still alive but the Sengalese look the only side to have a real chance of qualifying for the knockout stages after their impressive 2-1 win over Poland in their opening group H match.

And Tunisia could be the next African team to exit the tournament after failing to pick up a point against England in their opening encounter and now facing a heavily featured Belgium side.

Hopes were high for Africa and Middle East sides before the tournament, especially the Mohamed Salah inspired Egypt, but it’s been a desperately disappointing World Cup so far.

Africa desperately needs the Eagles of Carthage to stand up and give a big performance, not become another side to meekly exit the World Cup stage.

Same again thanks Romelu

The Manchester United striker’s double gave the Red Devils, Belgium not United, an easy 3-0 first up World Cup victory.

But apparently it took a rollicking from captain Eden Hazard to bring the 25-year-old out of his shell before his game clinching double.

The Chelsea playmaker took Lukaku aside at half-time to urge him to have a greater influence on the game.

“It’s not easy playing with a man missing,” said Hazard bluntly. “At half-time, I told him (Lukaku) we needed him.”

“He’d been hiding out a bit up front. But once he got in there, involved in the game, like magic, he scored two.

“I hope he understands that now.”

Manager Roberto Martinez gave his side Wednesday off following their opening match on the humid Black Sea coast before they face Tunisia on Saturday (16:00 UAE time).

Martinez also poured cold water on the claims of tension in the team after TV cameras showed defender Jan Vertonghen shouting at winger Yannick Carrasco during the match.

“Any sort of negative word between the players is not a type of attitude that we have,” Martinez said. “Of course, we want to demand from each other, and that’s natural, what happens in a dressing room.”

Tunisian goalkeeper Hassen’s World Cup lasted just 16 minutes

Eagles of Carthage goalkeeper Mouez Hassen’s World Cup finished after just 16 minutes after he injured his shoulder in the 2-1 loss to England.

The 23-year-old was forced off early in Volgograd and it was decided he would not recover in time to continue in the tournament. He has returned to his French second division club Chateauroux for further treatment.

The injury occurred when Hassen collided with England midfielder Jesse Lingard. He was replaced by Farouk Ben Mustapha, who conceded the last-minute goal to Kane.

It was a disappointing World Cup for French-born Hassen who actually switched his international allegiance to Tunisia earlier this year and made his international debut only in March. He had previously played for France at U21 level.

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