Belgium players call for the World Cup referees to protect Eden Hazard

Belgium stars Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen call on World Cup referees to protect Eden Hazard from any heavy-handed tactics ahead of their clash against Russia.

Belgium players have called on the referees at the World Cup to protect their star winger Eden Hazard ahead of their game against Russia at the Maracana.

Hazard was on the end of some tough challenges in Belgium's 2-1 win over Algeria, as the African side tried to break up the intense pressure from Marc Wilmots' men.

German referee Felix Brych is in charge of today's clash against Russia and Belgian duo Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen are hoping that Hazard is protected from any heavy-handed tactics.

"Everybody knows Eden is an unbelievable talent and we also know he is going to get kicked," Dembele told the Daily Mail. "I hope the referees protect him a bit."

Vertonghen admitted that he understands why defenders target Hazard, telling reporters: "Eden is the kind of player who is going to get kicked and, if I was a right-back, I think maybe I would do the same,"

"He is a player who can be very dangerous."

A win for Belgium over Russia would see them qualify for the second round.

Belgium's midfielder Marouane Fellaini celebrates after scoring during a Group H football match between Belgium and Algeria on June 17, 2014
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