• World Cup

Hazard: I hope they try to kick me

ESPN staff
July 1, 2014
Hazard is part of a Belgium starting XI packed full of Premier League stars © Getty Images

Belgium's Eden Hazard hopes the United States attempt to rough him up as he aims to emulate Neymar in their World Cup last 16 clash on Tuesday.

The midfielder said he wants to be remembered alongside the Brazilian as one of the stars of the tournament and that, if the physical Americans try to foul him at the Arena Fonte Nova, it will mean he is heading in the right direction.

"I have looked at what the other stars have done and try to take as much inspiration from them as possible," said Hazard. "Have I been impressed by Messi, Neymar and Rodriguez? Of course I have.

"Rodriguez played a great game against Uruguay. I know him because we played against Colombia and I watch the French league. In statistical terms he is the best player in the tournament.

"As for my tournament so far, I rate it at 50-50. I have been decisive for the group but, in terms of consistency, I can do better. I hope it will be the case from now on, but I know you will see the best Eden.

"Do I feel the pressure? No, it remains the same. I know there are a lot of people watching me but I will deal with that in the same way I approach all the other games - and just make sure I give my best.

"The US are a very physical team but, if they foul me a lot, it means I am having a good day - and I hope they do because it will mean we get lots of free-kicks and scoring opportunities."

Victory against the US would send Belgium through to the quarter finals to meet either Argentina or Switzerland, who play each other beforehand on Tuesday. Hazard insisted that whoever they face in the last eight, they believe they can go on to win the tournament.

"I have no idea what people think of me and my performances in the tournament so far but I always try to give the maximum I can," he said. "I just want to be good so that our group can continue our adventure together. With the quality of players we have, we can dream."

Meanwhile, Thibaut Courtois is aiming to extend his 20-match unbeaten run in goal for Belgium against the US

"I am in great shape but that is not the most important thing," he said. "I am trying to help the team and do my best so that my contribution is important. If I succeed in maintaining this record all the better."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close