Hazard the winger failed dismally to impress the Stamford Bridge-bound coach during Belgium’s 2-0 loss to Italy, casting doubt over his suitability to the new regime.
“I want to show him everything I’m capable of and prove that he can rely on me next season.” As auditions go, Eden Hazard’s display for Belgium in Monday’s Euro 2016 clash with Antonio Conte’s Italy was as underwhelming as they come: No goals; no assists; no impact.
Hazard is perhaps just one of several high-profile victims of Marc Wilmots’ inability to get the best out of the players at his disposal. However, in Lyon, Hazard did not offer anything like the kind of work-rate – let alone efficiency – that Antonio Conte demands of his players.
The Italian is a ruthless, compulsive character. He knows exactly what he wants and has no time for anyone unwilling to give it to him. As Emanuele Giaccherini explained to reporters after the Azzurri’s impressive 2-0 win over the highest-ranked side at Euro 2016: “He works hard in training during the week and he wants his players to always play his football; namely that the defenders, the midfielders and the attackers all work hard.” Essentially, there is no room for luxury players in Conte’s squad. That was clear from the moment he arrived at Juventus in 2011.
There was also the fact that Conte quickly abandoned his initial plan to play 4-2-4. He quickly analysed the strengths of those available to him and promptly switched to a 3-5-2 formation designed at getting the best out of new arrivals Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner, as well as ball-playing centre-half Leonardo Bonucci. Krasic was one of those sacrificed and the Serb only made four more league appearances before being farmed out to Fenerbahce at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Hazard is undeniably a vastly superior player to Krasic but the Serb’s story should serve as a warning for a player who appeared worryingly demotivated for the majority of last season, particularly during Jose Mourinho’s final days at the helm. Hazard may have grown weary of the Portuguese coach and his defensive demands but if he is expecting to have an easier time under Conte, he is in for a rude awakening.
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