Is Eden Hazard ready to take Brazil by storm?

The Rio Report

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Squawka analyse Eden Hazard's season with Chelsea and conclude that he's ready to take the World Cup by storm with Belgium.

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The long wait for the World Cup is almost over, the summer showpiece in Brazil just two weeks away now.

Much conjecture has already taken place over who will win the tournament, who can claim the Golden Boot, who can sparkle for England and generally which world-class players can step up to the plate on the grandest stage of all and fire their teams to glory.

While the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have had their credentials discussed at length, one player has almost flown under the radar in these discussions: Eden Hazard.

It makes sense that perhaps Hazard hasn't been talked about in the same detail as others, given that Belgium are not one of the clear favourites for the tournament and the end to his season was a subdued one, with injury ensuring Hazard was not as effective as he had been.

But this could prove a blessing in disguise for the wing wizard. With Hazard having been an ever-present for Chelsea up until injury struck, the rigours of a full Premier League season on a still-maturing 23-year-old could have potentially blighted his first opportunity to shine at a World Cup.

That rest towards the end of the season now probably gives Hazard a better chance of performing up to his usual standards in Brazil and giving himself the platform to truly put himself up alongside the best players in the world.

Hazard has spoken often throughout the season of upping his game to emulate the likes of Ronaldo and Messi and the World Cup is where you can prove your quality, with Belgium appealing to those looking for a dark horse for the tournament due to the quality of the individuals in their squad.

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Hazard is without a doubt the star of that talented collective, and he has come on leaps and bounds this season to add goals by the bucket-load to his game, with the Chelsea man having netted 14 times in the Premier League this season to finish as top scorer for the Blues.

Hazard has seen 25.9% of his shots on goal find the back of the net and he has upped his contribution in the final third of the pitch, leading the club's assist charts as well with seven assists from a league-high 92 chances created for his team-mates.

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It was not simply that Hazard was a flat-track bully either, as he stepped up in the big games to find the back of the net, netting goals in victories over both Liverpool and Arsenal.

However, it is perhaps Hazard's ability running at people that has caught the eye more than anything else this season, with the Belgian flyer causing countless problems for defences throughout the league.

Hazard completed 132 take-ons in the Premier League alone this season, proving to be the fifth highest in Europe's top five leagues, as he successfully beat his man with 63% of his attempts.

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In addition, nobody in the Premier League was fouled as many times as Hazard, with the Chelsea man having been felled on 89 occasions in his 35 appearances for the Blues, as he proved an unstoppable force at times.

With Belgium's group of Russia, Algeria and South Korea proving a relatively simple one for the Red Devils to navigate, Hazard will have time to display his true quality on the big stage and the potential meeting with Portugal in the second round provides the prospect of Hazard going up against Ronaldo with a place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup at stake.

While Mourinho may have disappointed Hazard with his tactics at times, the Belgians are prepared to play in more free-flowing, attacking system that helps accentuate their star man's abilities and he could truly shine if everything else clicks for the team.

With a potential match-up against Ronaldo's fading Portugal side a fascinating one, Hazard has the opportunity to out-perform the current Ballon d'Or holder on the grandest stage of them all and fully announce himself as one of the finest players on the planet.

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