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Belgium v Israel: Visitors on the brink of exit as Hazard eyes Euro 2016 glory

Stand-in captain Eden Hazard believes Belgium can challenge to win Euro 2016, while Tuesday’s opponents Israel face a huge uphill struggle if they are to qualify.

Marc Wilmots’ men have already booked their ticket to France having defeated Andorra 4-1 on Saturday, a result that moved them above Wales to the top of Group B and sealed their first qualification to the Euros since 2000. 

Israel had been in pole position to seal third place and a play-off spot until they suffered a shock 2-1 home loss to Cyprus, which now leaves them up against it ahead of their final qualifier.

Eli Guttman’s men are one point behind Bosnia-Herzegovina after they defeated Wales. The turnaround means they must get a better result against table-toppers Belgium in Brussels than Bosnia can manage away to Cyprus.

Having made a good start to the campaign, Israel are paying the price for a dreadful run that has seen them pick up just four points from their last six qualifiers.

Belgium, meanwhile, have no such worries. Hazard, who wore the captain’s armband against Andorra with Vincent Kompany out injured, feels the squad have enough quality to build on their quarter-final appearance at the World Cup with glory in France next year.

“Our aim is to win Euro 2016,” the Chelsea winger told Sporza. “We are aware that we can win it – there is enough quality in the group.

“We want to do something massive in France but we need everything to go well. But the Euros are not for tomorrow. First we have to play a good season.”

Hazard scored one penalty and missed another during the Andorra victory and reflected on the miss after the match, as well as paying tribute to Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini, who he is now level with at the top of Belgium’s scoring charts for the qualifying campaign on five goals after the midfielder did not come off the bench on Saturday.

The 24-year-old continued: “Without that miss, I would have been top scorer [in qualifying].

“But I will score on Tuesday against Israel. We really want to win and finish in style.

“In my opinion, Fellaini has been the best player in qualifying. He has scored a lot of goals even if he has not played all the matches.”

Dries Mertens played in the win over Andorra and he wants to see Belgium keep their foot on the throttle against Israel.

He said: “We are delighted because it is a long time since Belgium last qualified for the European Championship, so there is a good feeling in the team.

“We came here for the three points and to qualify, but we still want to win on Tuesday and finish first in the group.”

After the match in Andorra, head coach Wilmots revealed he had no new injury concerns ahead of the game with Israel. 

Sun 11 Oct, 2015
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