Eden Hazard believes N’Golo Kante is the best defensive midfielder in the world and says Belgium will have a tough time beating France in their World Cup semi-final if his club team-mate is at his best.
The Chelsea winger will line up against Kante at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday night with the victor earning a place in the World Cup final against either Croatia or England.
Having now spent two seasons playing alongside the tenacious tackler, Hazard is not looking forward to the prospect of coming up against him and says France will be heavy favourites if he is at his very best.
‘I play all year with Kante,’ he told beIN Sports. ‘He is the best in the world in his position. When he is at his best, you have a 95 per cent chance to win the game.’
Both players have been notable stars for their countries in Russia, which stands in contrast to a forgettable Premier League season in which they failed to qualify for the Champions League.
It will not be the only Chelsea match-up on Tuesday evening with France striker Olivier Giroud looking to score against Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois.
The former Arsenal star was asked to compare Courtois to France and Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and Giroud made no bones about saying the latter was the more talented shot stopper.
He said: ‘Thibaut has an impressive wingspan. It’s hard to beat him on the sides. He can stop balls in any area.
‘I have scored a few goals against him in training with Chelsea and I hope I can do it on Tuesday.
‘They’re both great keepers. And they both deserve to be elected as best keeper of the tournament, even if I have a preference for Hugo.
‘The best is Hugo. Sorry Thibaut.’