Soccer-Eden Hazard making strong bid to be ready to face Italy says brother

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FILE PHOTO: Euro 2020 - Round of 16 - Belgium v Portugal
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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium captain Eden Hazard is recovering well and making a strong bid to be ready for Friday’s European Championship quarter-final against Italy, his brother Thorgan said on Tuesday.

Hazard pulled up with a hamstring strain near the end of Belgium’s hard-fought victory over holders Portugal in the last 16 in Seville on Sunday and had been given a 50-50 chance to recover for Friday’s match in Munich by coach Robert Martinez when he held a news conference on Monday.

But 24 hours later, the skipper’s sibling handed Belgium fans some hope when he told reporters: “Eden is doing well. He is working hard with the medical staff to be ready for Italy."

The 30-year-old Eden Hazard gave an impressive performance in leading Belgium to a 1-0 win on Sunday, which Martinez said was his best showing for his country in recent years.

His younger brother, who scored the winning goal, agreed: “Eden is normally not the player to go to war, but against Portugal I've seen him tackle and fight for every ball. A bit like against Brazil at the 2018 World Cup. He has had a difficult season, but he plays without fear.”

However, if he did not recover in time, Belgium would still cope insisted 28-year-old Thorgan.

“Eden is important to the team. It would be better if he was there, but we have proven that it can be done without him. In possession, he is important to keep the ball and bring the rest of us into the game. Maybe Eden will be there. It's not 100% sure yet. We’ll see from day to day.”

Thorgan Hazard continues to be the toast of Belgium after his vital goal against Portugal, coming out of the shadow of his brother, with a rasping long-range effort that is one of the best at Euro 2020 so far.

“I also saw the photo of Eden after I scored. Judging by his face, he couldn’t believe it. It's not often that I'm the hero of the day. It’s not too difficult to say it’s my best goal for the Red Devils ever because I don't score that often," he quipped.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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