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Borussia Monchengladbach

Exclusive: Thorgan Hazard – From Chelsea to Gladbach and comparisons with brother Eden

The Belgian international discusses his development as a player since leaving Stamford Bridge.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

Due to the fact that his brother is regarded as one of the best players in the world, Thorgan Hazard was always going to face an uphill battle to establish himself in football.

Like his older sibling, the Borussia Monchengladbach player is an attacker who likes to run with the ball and create problems for opposition defences.

His family name would have had positives and negatives for him, but ultimately, he has managed to break through and forge a reputation on his own merit during recent years.

The comparisons between the two have been impossible to miss. The 25-year-old has grown used to them as it has happened throughout his career, but he believes that his path in professional football has been more normal than Eden’s.

In an exclusive interview with The Boot Room, Hazard revealed the following:

“I’ve always been compared to him. But I have often said that he is one of the best players in the world at one of the best clubs in the world. He is a genius on the pitch who has skipped several career steps. I, on the other hand, had normal development as a footballer. Although we play in a similar position, we are different players.”

Although he believes his journey has differed to his brother’s, Thorgan was signed by Chelsea shortly after the club paid big money to land Eden.

(Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

The attacker was 19 years of age at the time and likely signed to appease his big brother, but it provided him with an opportunity to take his own career to the next level. He didn’t stay long and took the first chance to gain first-team experience through a loan spell.

“I spent only a month at Chelsea. Then I was loaned directly to Belgium and then to Germany. I do not want to say that I learned a lot during the one month, but it was nice to meet the club.”

The Chelsea loan policy has been heavily criticised during recent years as the club was accused of hoarding talent. However, there were benefits for young players as they got a healthy wage and were loaned out to clubs that could give them substantial playing time.

Hazard spent three seasons out on loan before eventually leaving Stamford Bridge without making an appearance in the Premier League. His third season was spent with Borussia Monchengladbach.

It is becoming increasingly common for English youngsters to move to Germany whether permanently or on loan. When asked about for his thoughts on that, Hazard acknowledged the benefits that the Bundesliga provides to a young, developing player.

“A lot of playing time is best for young players to develop. And in Germany, the clubs often give the boys good chances. The Bundesliga is also a very good competition to develop.”

It was in the German top-flight that Hazard really made his name, stepping out of his older brother’s shadow in the process. He went on an initial season-long loan to Borussia Monchengladbach before making the move permanent 12 months later.

During his first campaign with the German club, he started only seven league matches with another further 21 appearances coming from the bench. Despite his limited role, the attacker ended the season with seven assists showing the creativity that he possesses.

Hazard has provided dynamism to the Monchengladbach team since arriving at the club and has played his best football when used in a central role, as his direct style causes problems for opposition teams.

(Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

It wasn’t a huge surprise when the Bundesliga side made his deal permanent as they could see his potential and decided they could put the time into his development. He has been an important first-team player since signing, but it has only been this season that he has become an indispensable member of the starting eleven.

Hazard has started 29 times in the Bundesliga and the club have been rewarded with the attacker’s best season in the final third. The Belgian international currently has nine goals and four assists. At the time of writing, he is the team’s top scorer and he has shone in a mixed season for the club as they are currently positioned in 8th.

Monchengladbach are an ambitious club and having played in the Champions League in two of the last three seasons, they will be looking to challenge towards the top of the division. Their current position is not bad, but they will look back on it with some regret.

“I think we had a good first turn, we have achieved good performances and good results. The second half of the season is very difficult.

“We had many injured players and some unfortunate decisions of the referee against us. But that cannot be an excuse. In some cases, we have not shown our best performance. That’s why we are in the middle of the table. Now we want to win the remaining games if possible.”

The team still have an outside chance of qualifying for Europe, but they will require a perfect end to the season and other teams to slip up. They have had problems in both halves of the pitch, but it is their defensive record that has troubled them more. In total, the club have conceded 48 goals, which ranks them as the joint-third worst defence in the division.

In the final third, they have been decent, but they still have the second-worst record in the top half of the table. One player to impress and show consistency has been Hazard. The 25-year-old has scored more league goals than any other player in the squad and he admits that it is enjoying his responsibility in the final third.

“Of course, it’s nice to be the top scorer of his team. But it’s just my job to help the team win games. Being a decisive player also means I’m doing a good job. Whether I’m involved in goals or someone else is not the most important thing.”

(Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Hazard has certainly been a decisive player this season, as he is having his most productive campaign since signing for Monchengladbach. There are a lot of talented players in the squad, but the Belgian international is arguably the standout and it will be important that they keep him if they want to challenge higher up the league next season.

There won’t be a shortage of clubs looking at his as a potential target and this summer could be huge in determining his future. Hazard looks likely to go to the World Cup with Belgium and that will put him in the shop window if he plays and performs well.

Given his brother’s success in England, there could be Premier League interest in the 25-year-old at some point soon. However, he isn’t looking too far ahead of himself.

“Everyone knows the Premier League and it’s an interesting competition. But right now, I have another two years contract with Borussia Mönchengladbach. We will see what the future holds. But I feel very comfortable with Borussia and in the Bundesliga. At the moment I do not think about a change.”

At the age of 25, Hazard has several seasons left at the top level and his gradual improvement until now should offer encouragement that greater things are to come in his career. He has a lot more to give and this season has seen him take his career to the next level.

The Monchengladbach man has gone from decent squad player to leading attacker and he isn’t finished yet.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Belgium

Exclusive: Thorgan Hazard – Belgium’s World Cup chances and facing England in Group G

The Belgian international discusses his countries hopes at the upcoming World Cup.

Jake Jackman

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Thorgan Hazard
Photo: Getty Images

The World Cup is fast approaching and the excitement is beginning to build as the club season draws to an end.

Belgium are going to be England’s biggest challenge in Group G, with the other two teams being Tunisia and Panama.

The two European nations are set to face each other on the 28th June in the final group match and it is likely that the fixture will decide who goes through in first place.

England will know the Belgium squad well, as a lot of their players ply their trade in England.

However, Thorgan Hazard is less known to English defenders and the Borussia Monchengladbach attacker could have a role to play this summer.

Roberto Martinez is a big fan of the 25-year-old and has included him in the majority of squads since becoming manager of the Red Devils.

He may not have had the success of his older brother, Eden, at international level but he has collected seven caps and one goal for his country.

At the age of 25, he is approaching the peak years of his career and it would be great for his development if he could announce himself on the global stage.

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

In an exclusive interview with The Boot Room, Hazard spoke about his hopes for both Belgium and himself this summer.

“I hope to be part of the Belgian team travelling to Russia. Since our current coach Roberto Martinez took over, I was invited to all matches and could also make a few matches.

“The decision is of course with the coach. I have to show good performances in the club, then we will see. Of course, it would be very special for me if I could be there.”

It won’t be easy for Hazard to get into the team this summer, as Belgium have their own Golden Generation at the moment and Martinez has a number of talented attackers available to him.

Eden Hazard is likely to be the key man, but Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens and Michy Batshuayi have all had good campaigns for top European clubs. Meanwhile, Divock Origi, Kevin Mirallas and Yannick Carrasco all provide solid options for Martinez.

Although the younger Hazard brother won’t be one of the first names on the team-sheet, he has had his best season in professional football and stood out as the best player at Monchengladbach this season.

It has been a year of progression from the 25-year-old and his regular involvement with the national side shows that his manager has taken notice.

Hazard is currently the leading scorer for Monchengladbach with nine goals in the Bundesliga, which is his best return for a single league season. His consistency has been impressive, as he has averaged 2.01 chances created and 2.59 shots per ninety minutes. The attacker has been a regular threat to defences.

To put his performances into context, his older brother has averaged 3.13 chances created and 2.67 shots per ninety minutes for Chelsea. Considering Eden is playing in a superior team and has more opportunity to express himself, these stats show the quality of Thorgan.

“I think it’s the best generation of footballers Belgium has ever had. Of course, we want to go far at this World Cup, beyond as in 2014. But winning this title is very difficult. Everything has to fit, including health and luck in the matches.”

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

It is the pinnacle of the sport to lift the World Cup and Belgium have never managed to do it in their history. That isn’t surprising due to their size, but the names listed earlier show the quality that they currently possess. There is a belief that this is their best chance and Hazard clearly agrees with that. In 2014, they got experience in the tournament and reached the quarter-final stage, but they will be looking to improve of that this summer.

They will go into this summer with confidence after easing through their qualification group. Although they didn’t have the most difficult opposition, they managed to win nine of their ten matches and scored an incredible 43 goals, which averaged out at over four per game. Martinez has given the squad license to play attacking football and that certainly plays to their strengths.

However, Hazard is right to allude to the difficulty of winning the World Cup. Only one nation can do it every four years and Belgium won’t be one of the favourites. They will need everything to click and get the bit of luck required to go deep into a tournament. The first challenge will be England and the Monchengladbach winger spoke of the benefits his country will gain from having a number of Premier League players in the squad.

“Many of the best Belgian footballers play in the Premier League. So, we know many English players well. But it makes a difference whether you play against them with the club team or meet each other with the national teams. We will definitely do everything we can to win this difficult and important group game.”

They do have an advantage through knowing the English players well, but England have the same knowledge that could prove an important factor. This is why those that play in other top European leagues could be crucial in the final group game. Mertens, Radja Nainggolan and the younger Hazard could all be key figures for the Red Devils.

This summer will be special for the Hazard family. It is rare for two siblings to play to a high level in professional football and even rarer for them to feature alongside each other at a World Cup. It could be a tournament that takes both players to a new level.

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Borussia Monchengladbach

Borussia Monchengladbach vs Fiorentina: Match Preview, likely line-ups and score prediction

Scott Challinor

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The Europa League is back for the start of it’s Round of 32 ties this Thursday, and this is one of the mouth-watering ties coming from Europe, as two-time winners of the old UEFA Cup Borussia Monchengladbach of the Bundesliga, take on Fiorentina of Serie A, whose only European title was the Old Cup Winners’ Cup back in 1961.

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‘Gladbach dropped into the competition after finishing third in their Champion League group behind Barcelona and Manchester City, whilst Fiorentina progressed from the Europa League group stages after topping Group J ahead of Greek club PAOK Salonika, Azeri outfit Qarabag, and Czech side Slovan Liberec. The Italians won four, drew once and lost once on the way to progression.

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Recent form

German club ‘Gladbach are enjoying an unbeaten run of five matches in all competitions in 2017, winning each of their last four and currently lying 10th in the Bundesliga table, and so will go into their home leg with Fiorentina in encouraging form. They did, however, fail to win any of their three home fixtures in the Champions League group phase on the way to finishing third and dropping into the Europa League.

Meanwhile, Fiorentina have been shaky on the road in recent months, with just two wins in their last six away games in all competitions, losing the other four. Their away form in Europe has faired slightly better, however, with two victories and a draw coming in their three away matches in the Europa League group phase. Their one loss on the way to topping the group was a 2-3 reverse at home to PAOK.

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Predicted line-ups

‘Gladbach are expected to stick to the 4-4-2 formation implemented by Dieter Hecking that has seen them start 2017 unbeaten. With forward Raffael doubtful for the first-leg, Lars Stindl and Andre Hahn are in line to replace him, with the former the likelier to get the not to start alongside Thorgan Hazard (brother of Chelsea‘s Eden), in attack. On-loan Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen is set to start at the heart of the defence.

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Paulo Sousa is expected to deploy his side in a defensive 3-4-2-1 formation, with Khouma Babacar likely to get the nod to start as the lone forward ahead of Nikola Kalinic, having been widely used throughout their Europa League games this season. January signing Riccardo Saponara is expected to be handed his European debut in attacking midfield alongside Federico Bernadeschi. On-loan Aston Villa man Carlos Sánchez is expected to start in the midfield four despite being one booking away from suspension.

Borussia M.Gladbach predicted starting XI            Fiorentina predicted starting XI

 

Injuries/suspensions

Raffael remains a doubt for ‘Gladbach after having sat out their last two games, with Jonas Hofmann also rated doubtful for the clash with La Viola. Indeed, the Germans have had several injury problems to contend with coming into this one, with Kolo, Ibrahima Traore, Marvin Schulz and Mamadou Doucoure all on the treatment table. Mahmoud Dahoud is expected to start, but is one booking away from suspension and will miss the away leg at Stadio Artemio Franchi if he is carded here.

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Fiorentina’s only expected absentee is Federico Chiesa, who sits out the first-leg trip to Germany after carrying over a suspension from the group stages. Meanwhile, Carlos Sánchez is one booking away from suspension and although expected to feature, a booking at Borussia Park would see him out of the return leg in Florence.

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Our prediction

‘Gladbach’s recent upturn in form under Dieter Hecking is cause for encouragement, and they will be striving to pick up their first win at home in a European proper competition this season. With Fiorentina’s rocky away form in mind, there are always goals in their games, with over 2.5 goals going in during each of La Viola’s last five in the competition, the Italians netting at least two in all of those games.

Their most difficult away assignment in the group stages saw them pick up a point at PAOK, but we expected Fiorentina’s struggles to continue against an in-form side who should finally get off the mark at home in Europe this season. Our call is Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1 Fiorentina.

 

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Five things we learnt from Celtic and Manchester City’s 3-3 thriller

Martyn Cooke

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Celtic and Manchester City played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in Matchday Two of the Champions League group stage on Wednesday evening in a wonderfully thrilling night of European football in Glasgow.

The result ended Pep Guardiola’s 100% record as Manchester City manager, which has seen The Blues win all ten of the Spaniard’s previous matches in charge so far this season, and helped Celtic to bounce back from the heavy defeat that they suffered to Barcelona earlier this month.

For Brendan Rodgers, it looks increasing likely that he will need to content himself with competing for third place in Group C but this contest will certainly live long in the memory and demonstrated tentative signs that the former Liverpool and Swansea City manager has the Scottish Champions moving in the right direction.

Over the next few pages, we have included five things we learnt from the night’s proceedings.

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Celtic can match anyone when they play at Parkhead

The atmosphere generated by the Celtic supporters at Parkhead on Wednesday evening was loud, raucous and, at times, deafening. From the moment that Dembélé opened the scoring early in the first period of the game, you sensed that this would be a special, picturesque European night under the floodlights and, for long periods, the home side more than matched their illustrious opponents.

Celtic have yet to win on their travels Champions League this campaign, having lost three and draw one of their four away ties so far, but at Parkhead, they look like they can go toe to toe with any side in Europe.

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