Belgium pointed to Eden Hazard as a potential match winner as they laid out a strategy to combat Lionel Messi and Argentina when they meet in their World Cup quarter-final in Brasilia on Saturday.
“Hey, we’ve got Eden,” teammate Kevin Mirallas said on Thursday as reporters sought answers to the question of dealing with the threat of Argentina’s multiple World Footballer of the Year award winner.
“You can’t compare him with Messi or (Cristiano) Ronaldo, but he is still something special.” Seeing off Argentina’s talismanic threat will be a communal effort, added defender Jan Vertonghen.
“We have to stand together as team. If Messi gets past one of us, then there must a second and third player ready to stop him.”
But he added it was Argentina who had more to fret over as they prepared a game plan against the Belgians, who have four wins under their belt in Brazil already.
“We are a team that is difficult for an opponent to prepare against and to play against,” Vertonghen insisted.
“We can play different systems and we have a lot of good players on the bench. It is exceptional to have so many different qualities in a squad. We are certainly not scared about Saturday.”
Midfielder Axel Witsel said the game in the Brazilian capital might even prove easier than their previous matches at tournament.
“It is understandable that in the group phase we played against cagey teams and found it difficult against them.
“Against the Americans (in the last 16) there was much more room and I expect Argentina to look to dictate the play. Hopefully that gives us room to infiltrate and our players can profit from the gaps they offer. We have a lot of players with with pace.
“The Argentines haven’t played well to date,” added Witsel.