Bale is slightly better than Hazard, admits Lukaku


Jordan Lukaku rates Wales' Gareth Bale "slightly higher" than Eden Hazard, even though the latter is his international team-mate with Belgium.

Speaking ahead of Friday's Euro 2016 quarter-final between the two nations in Lille, the Oostende defender unsurprisingly picked out Bale and Aaron Ramsey as the two danger men in the opposing ranks.

Lukaku even revealed he ranks the Real Madrid forward ahead of Hazard, who did not train with his team-mates on Wednesday due to a thigh injury picked up in the 4-0 win over Hungary, because of his greater consistency for club and country.

"Bale is for me perhaps slightly higher than Hazard. He's been playing longer at that level," he said. 

"At key moments at club level Bale is the man and he stands there, while Hazard is still not consistent.

"The staff will devise a plan to neutralise Bale and Aaron Ramsey because they are the strongest players Wales have. So we will find a way to counter them but it will not be one player, it will be the whole team."

Belgium know all about Wales after they were paired in the same qualifying group - Marc Wilmots' squad failed to score in either meeting, but still managed to finish top of the table.

Winger Dries Mertens acknowledges the Welsh defence will be a tough nut to crack again, particularly as they can always catch you on the counter.

"It's a difficult team. They are very good defensively, they play with three defenders behind," he said.

"They give you the feeling you can score a goal but in the end they score a goal and have stopped you. If you don't play really well against them, you have a lot of problems. They also have a lot of quality up front."

Lukaku and Mertens could both feature from the start at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, with the former a potential replacement for the suspended Thomas Vermaelen.