Thorgan Hazard, Axel Witsel and Thomas Meunier could be a key Borussia Dortmund-trio for Belgium at the Euros this summer. - © DFL
Thorgan Hazard, Axel Witsel and Thomas Meunier could be a key Borussia Dortmund-trio for Belgium at the Euros this summer. - © DFL
bundesliga

Axel Witsel, Thorgan Hazard and Thomas Meunier: Borussia Dortmund stars heading Belgium's Euro 2020 tilt

With Axel Witsel, Thorgan Hazard and Thomas Meunier all featuring in Belgium’s Euro 2020 bid, it's more a case of Bel-russia than Borussia Dortmund as the trio put their club roles to one side and star for their country this summer.

bundesliga.com takes a look at how the Signal Iduna Park stars are already proving crucial to the Red Devils' chances with the Euros in full swing.

Axel Witsel
Age: 32
2020/21 Bundesliga appearances/goals: 15/0
Position: Central midfield

Witsel's inclusion in Roberto Martinez's squad may have raised some eyebrows, given the 32-year-old midfielder hasn't featured for Dortmund since tearing an Achilles tendon half an hour into the 3-1 victory over RB Leipzig on Matchday 15 of the Bundesliga campaign.

He had been a regular up until that point and Witsel would have played a major part in proceedings for BVB over the course of the remainder of the season, were it not for that injury.

With 111 international caps to Witsel's name and having previously featured in two FIFA World Cups as well as a European Championship, his influence on and off the pitch will be significant and, going into the competition, Martinez explained he was "very confident" that Witsel "could have a big role" to play.

And now, having watched on as Belgium kicked off Euro 2020 with a 3-0 win over Russia, Witsel returned to feature from the bench against Denmark as the Red Devils booked their place in the knockout stage.

"When I selected Axel, it was with the belief that he would be able to play some minutes against Finland," explained the Belgium coach. "But he's so far ahead of schedule that he can already play against Denmark."

Thorgan Hazard
Age: 28
2020/21 Bundesliga appearances/goals: 16/1
Position: Winger

Hazard had his own share of injury struggles this season and missed 12 games from Matchdays 11-22 with a muscle problem.

Following his MD23 return against Arminia Bielefeld, though, the 28-year-old winger went on to feature in all but one of Dortmund's remaining league matches as BVB romped into third place and lifted the DFB Cup.

Thorgan Hazard (r. holding cup) played influential an influential hand en route to Borussia Dortmund lifting the DFB Cup. - TimGroothuis via TEAM2sportphoto/Groothuis/Witters/Pool/Witters

One of Hazard's four goals in 2020/21 came in the cup semi-final, while he played a key role as a second half substitute as Edin Terzic's team beat RB Leipzig to the trophy in the final.

Two goals and two more assists in five international outings leading into the tournament highlighted Hazard's importance and firmly established his place on the left of Belgium's four-man midfield ahead of the likes of brother Eden.

Hazard proved as much by lasting the entire 90 minutes of the victory over Russia before getting the equaliser in their 2-1 win against Denmark.

Thomas Meunier
Age: 29
2020/21 Bundesliga appearances/goals: 21/1
Position: Right-back

Operating from the opposite flank is Meunier, who put any disappointment in seeing Timothy Castagne preferred on the right for their group opener by delivering a display of the highest calibre from the bench.

With Castagne injured 27 minutes in, Meunier found the back of the net just seven minutes later to make the score 2-0. He wasn't finished there, going on to provide Romelu Lukaku for Belgium's third with two minutes remaining in a performance that eased any worries over Castagne's tournament coming to a premature end.

"He was exemplary," gushed Martinez after Meunier's display. "His contribution to victory is the real strength of this team. Everyone understands their respective roles. I'm very proud of his reaction."

It's not only in an attacking sense that Meunier can contribute, either, and his defensive influence was considerable in helping Dortmund secure a top-four finish and the DFB Cup in his first season at the club. Dortmund kept 10 clean sheets in 21 matches with Meunier on the pitch, compared to just one in 13 without the 29-year-old featuring.

Hertha Berlin defender Dedryck Boyata is the other Bundesliga representative in the Belgian squad, and he - like his compatriots back home - will be looking to Witsel, Hazard and Meunier to lead the charge as they go in search of a first major international trophy.