Complete Analysis of Eden Hazard's Chelsea Role vs. Belgium Role

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2014

B/R (via Getty/AP)

He's the talisman of Chelsea, and when Eden Hazard slips on the red jersey of Belgium not much changes.

The 23-year-old is one of the continent's hottest properties. And while Chelsea fans are spoiled with his displays every week in the Premier League, fans in his home country are pinning their hopes on him to deliver a successful World Cup for Marc Wilmots' Rode Duivels.

Indeed, Hazard is one of a host of talented Belgians plying their trade in Europe's top leagues right now.

It's led many to dub the country's current crop as the "Golden Generation," with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois, Kevin Mirallas, Vincent Kompany and Axel Witsel just some of the many well-known names that Wilmots has at his disposal.

Of course, international football requires a lot more from players. Being successful with your club side is one thing, but on the world stage even the biggest names have wilted.

Systems change, players' roles in the team are tweaked and, with less familiarity with those around them, success isn't always as easy to come by.

As we look ahead to this summer's World Cup in Brazil, Bleacher Report compares the role of Hazard for club and country.

HULL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Eden Hazard of Chelsea celebrates scoring their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Chelsea at KC Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images


Creative output and position

International football or not, when a manager is on to a good thing it's the wise choice that he sticks to what makes it work. Eden Hazard is one of the main creative outlets for Chelsea, and his role with Belgium is no different.

Interestingly, however, Marc Wilmots has often rotated Hazard's position within his system.

Under Jose Mourinho, save for the odd occasion, Hazard has predominantly featured on the left side of Chelsea's attacking three midfielders.

This has allowed Oscar to flourish as the first-choice No. 10, with either Willian or Andre Schurrle taking up the right-side attacking position.

Those players will switch sides and link up throughout the game, so it's not as rigid as the formation would suggest, but as Hazard's heat map from the 6-0 defeat of Arsenal outlines, it's on the left where he sees most of his action and has a bigger impact.

Hazard's heat map vs. Arsenal in March
Hazard's heat map vs. Arsenal in MarchSquawka

In his last few appearances for Belgium, Hazard's position hasn't been as guaranteed.

In last October's 2-1 defeat of Croatia in qualifying for the World Cup, he started in his usual club position on the left of a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Four days later against Wales he appeared from the bench to take up a similar role, although in November's 3-2 friendly defeat to Japan, Wilmots preferred him in a more central role, playing the No. 10 position we often see Oscar perform ahead of him at Chelsea.

And if we go back through Belgium's qualification campaign, it's a trend that continues.

In the doubleheader against Macedonia in March 2013, Hazard started the first encounter on the left before playing more centrally in a few days later.

Against Serbia in October 2012—the third game of World Cup qualifying—it was a more central role for Hazard that inspired Belgium to a 3-0 win, with the Chelsea man starting the previous two matches in his more familiar left-sided attacking role.

The intention is the same for Hazard at international level—to be a significant creative outlet for his team—it's the role that changes. And with more players suited to wide positions for his country, such as Kevin Mirallas and Nacer Chadli, playing Hazard centrally gives Wilmots more options.

Geert Vanden Wijngaert


Goal Dependency

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Chelsea's strikers haven't quite lived up to expectations in 2013-14.

Demba Ba, Samuel Eto'o and Fernando Torres have scored a total of 27 goals between them, meaning the task of finding the back of the net at vital stages of the campaign has fallen to Chelsea's trio of attacking midfielders.

They've all chipped in at various stages, but as the leading goalscorer at the club with 17 in all competitions, Eden Hazard has almost been expected to be the man who would come up with a strike when needed.

It's a different situation with his national team.

Belgium have relied on Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke as their goalscorers—both scored twice en route to qualification for Brazil 2014—while his former Chelsea teammate Kevin De Bruyne lead the scoring charts with four.

Hazard isn't as prolific in front of goal for his country, but there are others who take on that mantle and the strikers have proved far more reliable.

Lefteris Pitarakis


Squad rotation

Of Chelsea's 34 Premier League matches played to date, Eden Hazard has started 31 and been a substitute twice. The only game he hasn't featured in was against Swansea City, with injury ruling him out.

That statistic is only bettered by Branislav Ivanovic, Peter Cech and John Terry, outlining just how important Hazard has been to Chelsea's attacking structure throughout 2013-14.

During Belgium's World Cup qualification campaign, Hazard started just six of the 10 games, featuring as a substitute on another three occasions.

He remained vital to what Belgium achieved throughout their road to Brazil and will be key to what the country hopes to achieve while in South America this summer, but his inclusion isn't always guaranteed.

Whether it be tactics or squad rotation that dictates line-ups, Hazard has found himself a casualty at times along with the rest of his teammates.

Interestingly, Kevin De Bruyne started the most games of any of Belgium's attacking players.


Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes