Soccer-Belgium turn to Eden Hazard, Portugal make two changes


Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Portugal Training - La Cartuja Stadium, Seville, Spain - June 26, 2021 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo during training REUTERS/Marcelo Del Pozo

SEVILLE (Reuters) -Belgium coach Roberto Martinez put his faith in captain Eden Hazard for Sunday's Euro 2020 last-16 game with holders Portugal despite the player's long injury problems.

Hazard, who has missed most of the last two seasons with Real Madrid with frequent fitness troubles, started on the bench in Belgium's first two games at the tournament, although he played 90 minutes in the 2-0 win over Finland.

Martinez also picked Thomas Vermaelen, another player hit by injuries over the years and who now plays his club football in Japan, in the heart of defence.

Portugal's Fernando Santos made two changes from the team that drew 2-2 with France in their last game, dropping right back Nelson Semedo in favour of Diogo Dalot while replacing the injured Danilo with Joao Palhinha in midfield.

Santos also chose to leave Bruno Fernandes out for a second game in a row, preferring the defensive balance provided by Joao Moutinho.

In attack, Diogo Jota will once again partner Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the top scorer with five goals and is one strike away from becoming the leading all-time scorer in international football.

Belgium: Thibaut Courtois; Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Meunier; Axel Witsel, Youri Tielemans, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard (captain), Thorgan Hazard; Romelu Lukaku

Portugal: Rui Patricio; Pepe, Ruben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro, Diogo Dalot; Joao Moutinho, Renato Sanches, Joao Palhinha, Bernardo Silva; Cristiano Ronaldo (captain), Diogo Jota

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in BengaluruEditing by Toby Davis and Hugh Lawson)

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