Mönchengladbach - When Borussia Mönchengladbach coach Lucien Favre first arrived in German football in 2007 - joining Hertha Berlin as head coach from FC Zurich - he wasted little time in introducing the word ‘polyvalence’ into the country’s footballing lexicon.
15 outings, four starts
What the Swiss tactician meant by that was that he favours players who are able to operate in more than one position without a noticeable dip in quality.
It therefore comes as little surprise that Favre regards extremely highly. In his first six months in the Bundesliga this season, the 21-year-old Belgian has demonstrated his ability to play on either flank, in central midfield or as a second striker. It is that versatility that could well be crucial to the Foals’ aim of finishing in the UEFA Champions League places.
Hazard has featured in 15 Bundesliga matches this term, but started just four of those, only completing the full 90 minutes on one occasion. That was in large part due to the fierce competition for places in the Gladbach midfield, but with winger Andre Hahn sidelined with an achilles injury and fellow wide-man Ibrahima Traore on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations with Guinea, Hazard looks set to be given an extended run in the side.
“The physical intensity of the Bundesliga is very different to Belgium and at the start it was a big change for me,” Hazard told bundesliga.com in an exclusive interview in mid-November. “But I think I’ve got used to it now.”
Indeed, it wasn’t until towards the end of the Hinrunde that the Gladbach number 26 truly began to make his mark on proceedings, having a direct hand in four of the nine goals Gladbach scored in December, scoring once and providing three assists. Now aware of what to expect the Bundesliga and with Hahn and Traore unavailable, Hazard’s ‘polyvalence’ is likely to be put to good use on the left wing.