The highest-ranked team in the world, Belgium might be without their two influential players, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard when they face Italy at 20:00 on July 2, 2021.
The two players sustained different degrees of injuries during the Euro 2020 round of 16 match against Portugal on Sunday, June 27. They were both forced out of the game in the second half due to injuries.
Before coach Roberto Martinez decided to substitute them, Belgium had already scored against Portugal in the first half. The goal which was scored by Eden Hazard’s younger brother, Thorgan Hazard proved to be enough to qualify Belgium for the quarter-finals stage of the competition.
Unfortunately for the Belgian team, they won the thrilling encounter with an expensive price which is the possibility of playing a rock-solid Italy without their top two players – Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard.
Recall that Italy have been unbeaten in their last 31 games and they conceded their first goal in 2021 during their round of 16 game against Austria.
Hence, Italy will be the biggest test for Belgium and they will need their full squad which should include Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard to stand a chance of ending Italy’s unbeaten run on Friday.
Though Belgium have the kind of players that can comfortably replace Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard in the ongoing tournament, none can do as much as the two players in their respective roles.
Since Eden Hazard joined Real Madrid from Chelsea in 2019, he has been very injury-prone but in the last two games that he played for Belgium, he has shown that he is gradually returning to form.
As for Kevin De Bruyne, injury forced him out of the UEFA Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City on May 29. He however followed Belgium to Euro 2020 and only missed Belgium’s opener against Russia on June 12.
The Manchester City captain was expected to help Belgium to conquer a European Championship title this summer but coach Martinez feels he and Hazard might not be fit enough for the quarter-final tie against Italy on Friday.
While Martinez was addressing the press on Monday said the scan result of the two players showed that the two players are not badly injured but they might not have enough time to be fully fit before Friday.
“The initial information that we have from medical staff is positive for both, they will remain with the squad and they have no structural damage,” said Martinez.
“But we are running up against time and it is very difficult to see them fully fit. So, we have to take it day by day to try and get them fit.
“We were all a bit concerned before we got the news from the scans and it was a relief to all that we can now work on trying to get them fit again.”