Focus on Thorgan Hazard and Vadis Odjidja

By | November 6, 2012

On Sunday night I drove to Brugge to watch Georges Leekens’ Club Brugge play Zulte Waregem. I went with the specific aim of watching four players: Thorgan Hazard and Franck Berrier of Zulte Waregem, together with Vadis Odjidja and Carlos Bacca of Club Brugge. Obviously you can’t judge a player on one performance but I thought it would be interesting.

Thorgan Hazard and Franck Berrier chat before the kick-off

In the case, the statistics need to be seen in the context of the match. It was a bit special and it made headlines the following day and not just for what happened on the pitch. Going into the game, Club Brugge had lost five games in succession in all competitions. In contrast, Zulte Waregem were in a position to go top if they won at the Jan Breydel stadium.
A few days before the match, Club Brugge President Bart Verhaeghe had informed Leekens that he would be fired if they didn’t beat Zulte Waregem. He followed up that statement by dropping into the dressing room just before the game with Zulte and repeating his message to Leekens.

Club Brugge players get together to discuss tactics

Presumably his players heard the same words as their performance on the day was lamentable and led to parts of the Belgian media talking of ‘sabotage’ as they wanted rid of the ex-Belgian national team coach. In the event, Zulte Waregem won with a single goal from Thorgan Hazard and went to the top of the league. Within 90 minutes of the final whistle, Leekens was fired. It was no surprise to any observers of Belgian football that ‘Long Knife’, who hasn’t reached the end of a contract since 2001, had arranged a payoff of between 2-3 million euros in the event that he was sacked.

Brother of the more famous Eden

As for the match, here’s the statistics on the four players:

Thorgan Hazard (39 touches; 23 passes, 19 successful; 3 runs/dribbles; 5 tackles, 4 successful; 3 shots, 1 on target; 2 free kicks).
Hazard is 19 and is the younger brother of Chelsea’s Eden. He also joined Chelsea in the summer and was immediately loaned out to Zulte Waregem. The teenager had hardly played at Lens in the French second division and there were doubts cast by many – me included – as to the wisdom of Chelsea signing him. Since joining Zulte, he’s been getting good reviews and his performance in this match confirmed that view.
Hazard played on the left wing for most of the match but switched to the right in the second half. He was heavily involved in Zulte’s play and seemed to be the creative force along with Berrier (planning free kicks etc.). Most of his passes were short but he hit a couple of excellent long balls. He has the ability to beat men and does not shirk defensive duties. Hazard scored the only goal of the game, converting an excellent cross with aplomb. He reminded me more of Kevin De Bruyne, rather than his more famous brother. His brother Eden does all his work in the final third and is more explosive than Thorgan; the younger brother could develop more into a traditional number 10 and he seems to have the ability – like De Bruyne – to play anywhere across the park. Note that he’s had fewer than 20 games of first team football.

Franck Berrier (41 touches; 26 passes, 20 successful; 2 runs/dribbles; 4 tackles, 2 successful; 0 shots; 6 free kicks; 2 corners).
Berrier is a French playmaker aged 28. He’s had a mixed career, moving from the French second division to Zulte Waregem in 2008; he had an excellent season in 2009-10 when he had the most assists in the league. That earned Berrier a move to Standard Liege that didn’t work out; he returned to Zulte in the summer and is now scoring (9 goals in 14 games) and creating again.
Berrier played just behind the main striker though he often drifted over to whatever side Hazard was on – they seem to have an excellent partnership. He was heavily involved in most of Zulte’s moves. Berrier’s a lovely player to watch and it’s a pity he didn’t succeed at Standard.

Vadis Odjidja (40 touches; 26 passes, 25 successful; 4 runs/dribbles; 6 tackles, 4 successful; 0 shots; 2 free kicks; 2 corners).

Goodnight Georges and don’t forget the 3 million euros

Vadis Odjidja is a 23 year-old midfield player. He first signed professional forms with Anderlecht but became frustrated when he didn’t get many games and moved to Hamburg – where Vincent Kompany was playing. That move didn’t work and he moved to Club Brugge in 2009. He’s played around 100 games and has two international caps. He was set to join Everton in the summer but the deal was concluded a couple of minutes after the deadline.
Vadis Odjidja could not be accused of trying to sabotage Leekens as he was just as involved in the game as Berrier and Thorgan Hazard. All his passes but one were successful but he rarely tried anything spectacular, concentrating on short passes to team-mates. Club Brugge hardly created a chance during the game but Vadis made a few runs and got some tackles in. Overall, it was not a good day to try and assess his form.

Carlos Bacca (12 touches; 2 passes, 0 successful; 2 runs/dribbles; 3 tackles, 0 successful;2 shots, both on target; 1 free kick).
Bacca is a 26 year-old Colombian striker who joined Club Brugge last season but didn’t settle in his new country. This season he’s been a different player and has scored 11 goals in 11 games; he’s been called into the Colombian squad.
Bacca seemed to take a day off in this match. He touched the ball 12 times and had two weak shots at goal. It was not his finest 90 minutes.

9 thoughts on “Focus on Thorgan Hazard and Vadis Odjidja

  1. D.

    Nice analysis – just a quick question though, did you made this statistics yourself, or did you got them via another website/app?

  2. Paul

    Good stuff, I assumed as well that Thorgan was signed as a sweetener to get Big Brother Eden onside, but he seems like he could be a real player. Early days of course.

    Any idea if Odjidja transfer will be resurrected in January? Everton have started really well in the EPL so perhaps they may not see the need anymore. In which case Odjidja will presumably be signed by Chelsea so that they can field a full Belgian International 5-A-Side team in training next season.

    1. Belgofoot Post author

      I have the impression that Vadis Odjidja will have to impress Everton all over again. His form has been mixed, just like his team. If the new Club Brugge coach – whoever he turns out to be – gives him a lead role in the team, then Odjidja could be looking for a house in Cheshire. Lots of ifs and maybes there though.

  3. Jones

    I am not very impressed with Thorgan. Don’t think he’ll ever make it into the Chelsea squad. Good enough player for a team like Waregem, but I don’t expect we will see him at a higher level.

    Although the Vadis statistics seem impressive, he’s not really having good games. If Everton was watching the game against Newcastle he will likely have had a negative report. Was getting better and better into the game when he was substituted though. Of course, he remains a player with huge potential. It’s just a pity that he’s at a Club that just can’t get its act together. With a good coach that has confidence in him and a strong squad, he will thrive.

    1. Potomac89

      What makes you say your not impressed with Thorgan. He has had limited playing time yes, but he has been impressive basically everytime. Odidja-Ofoe, I thought, had a very good game against Newcastle. He was up and down the pitch all game and was very important on both ends. I thought it was crazy to take him out.

  4. Belgofoot Post author

    I felt that way about T. Hazard but having seen highlights on TV and now having seen him live at Brugge, I’m changing my opinion. Obviously it will be difficult to break into the Chelsea midfield as they have about 12 candidates. However, I think he’ll carve out a good career, beyond Waregem.

    Agree re Vadis Odjidja, as I said in previous post. But I wouldn’t put a lot of money on him having a better career than Thorgan Hazard.

  5. bruste

    Dear Mr Chapman,

    Do you think Vadis Odjidja could become the next Dembele?

    I think he would make a mistake by moving to Everton and try to replace fellaini in time because EFC plays a different type of football. I see him dominating the midfield, like Moussa Dembele did with Fulham, but of course he will need time to adjust to the Premier League.


  6. Belgofoot Post author

    Odjidja has looked very good in patches in last few seasons. The problem recently has been the continual changes of coach at Club Brugge. His strength is his attacking game, he’s strong, positive on the ball and can create chances. He’s less good on the defensive side so he’s not a box-to-box player. He needs to be given responsibility in midfield with one (or two) defensive midfield behind him. He’s never had that chance.


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