After escaping from their World Cup opener with a fortunate 1-0 win over Canada, Belgium were properly brought crashing back down to earth on Sunday, losing 2-0 to Morocco. That was a huge blow for the second-ranked nation in the world, and for Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard as both were poor in this one.
For Hazard, he was once again given just an hour. We all know that the Belgium captain isn’t the player he was at the last World Cup, yet Roberto Martínez is still loyal enough to start him each game, but only for an hour at a time.
In the Real Madrid man’s hour against Morocco, he flashed a fierce shot on target that Monir El Kajoui – a late pre-match replacement for Sevilla’s Bono – had to save, but he didn’t do much more in a positive sense apart from that. What Hazard did do was lose possession. A lot. In just an hour, he lost possession 12 times, working out at once every five minutes.
Eden Hazard’s game by numbers vs. Morocco:— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) November 27, 2022
12 times possession lost
4/10 ground duels won
1/4 dribbles completed
0/1 crosses completed
Struggled to have an impact on the game. ️ pic.twitter.com/M6ONLAsDdn
To be fair to Hazard, it was still 0-0 when he went off. And, after he departed the field, it got worse for Belgium.
Was Courtois at fault for Morocco’s opener?
It wasn’t only Hazard who had a difficult night. Courtois also had a tough outing as he let an Abdelhamid Sabiri freekick from wide go all the way past him in the 73rd minute, giving Morocco the lead. While some will make a defence for Courtois, since it was a fairly awkward ball, the best goalkeeper in the world should have done better.
With the second Morocco goal, which came in stoppage time when Belgium were chasing the game, there was nothing Courtois could do. Morocco were able to take advantage of some awful play from Axel Witsel and Zakaria Aboukhlal fired in a second to seal their historic win.
The loss leaves Belgium unsure of their World Cup future. It’s a tight group along with Morocco, Canada and Croatia and Belgium have just three points and two poor performances after two matches.