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Eden Hazard wants to become a "leader" at Real Madrid

Eden Hazard wants to become a
© Reuters
Eden Hazard is hoping for a longer run out in their final Group B match against Finland in St Petersburg on Monday.

Eden Hazard has dismissed the idea that he cannot become the dominant force for Real Madrid that he has been for his country.

Hazard has been dogged by injury during his first two seasons in Madrid and is returning to full fitness following his latest muscle strain.

"I try to be a leader on the pitch regardless of who I'm playing for," Hazard told a press conference.

"You can only become a leader if you're playing well and I play a lot more with the national team.

"I think if I have playing time with Real Madrid I can also become a leader there."

The former Chelsea playmaker has stepped off the bench in both Belgium's Euro 2020 games and is hoping for a longer run out in their final Group B match against Finland in St Petersburg on Monday.

"I don't think I'm yet at 100 per cent," Hazard added. "I think I'm ready to start a game, but it's always been in the pipeline from the beginning of the tournament, it was always to have this incremental approach.

"I'm going to play a little bit more each time until I hit that 100 per cent mark. We'll see how long I can play for tomorrow.

"But I'm getting confident, my entourage as well. Things are going quite smoothly at the moment."

The Red Devils have already qualified for the round of 16 after beating Russia 3-0 and Denmark 2-1 in their first two group matches.

Finland, playing in their first major tournament finals, could also progress from their group despite following up their opening 1-0 win against Denmark with a 1-0 defeat to Russia.

The Scandinavians' head coach Markku Kanerva is under no illusions as to the size of his side's task, but remains confident they can reach the last 16.

"We have the biggest match in the history of Finnish football tomorrow," Kanerva told a press conference. "The big dream that the team had to qualify from this group stage is in our own hands.

"It's beautiful that we have this opportunity and we will do everything to make the dream happen.

"We still have a chance to win the group, it is completely in our own hands."

Kanerva believes Belgium will be no weaker if head coach Roberto Martinez opts to make several changes.

"There is so much talent and quality in their team, but we don't think their positioning or game strategy will change drastically even though the players could change," Kanerva added.

"When you see the Belgian team at this tournament, they have the highest quality options for each position and I must say that we know we are facing a very strong team, no matter if they make a few changes."

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States25312379
Great BritainGreat Britain15181548
Today's Olympic highlights header

Thursday's key events

· The women's heptathlon continues with the long jump, javelin and 800m, with Katarina Johnson-Thompson now out of contention following an injury (1.10am-1.40pm)
· Andrew Pozzi pursues his dream of an Olympic medal in the men's 110m hurdles final (3.55am)
· Tom Bosworth and Callum Wilkinson are among the British hopes in the men's 20km race walk (8.30am)
· Holly Bradshaw aims to improve on fifth in Rio to challenge Greece's Katerina Stefanidi and Anzhelika Sidorova of Russia for an unlikely medal in the women's pole vault (11am)
· London 2012 champion Kirani James goes up against current world champion Steven Gardiner in the men's 400m final (1pm)

· One of the toughest Olympic events takes place in Tokyo Bay as GB's Hector Pardoe takes on the men's 20km marathon swim (10.30pm Wed)

· Galal Yafai takes on takes on Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov for a spot in the gold medal bout of the fly (48kg-52kg) class (6.48am)

· Lois Toulson and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix (daughter of First Dates' Fred Sirieix) line up for the women's 10m platform (semi-final 2am; final 7am)

· Australia face Belgium in the men's final (11am)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
1Athletic Bilbao00000000
2Atletico MadridAtletico00000000
5Celta Vigo00000000
14Rayo Vallecano00000000
15Real Betis00000000
16Real Madrid00000000
17Real Sociedad00000000

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