WALES V BELGIUM (Tomorrow, KO 7.45)
CHRIS Gunter knows better than most about the dangers of Bel-gium, because their talisman has already given him the run around this season.
Gunter, from Newport and now back in the Premier League with Reading, was given a tough examination at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea came from behind to beat the Royals 4-2.
Key to the European Champions’ comeback was the form of 21-year old summer signing Eden Hazard, the £37-million man out to dent Wales’ hopes tomorrow at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The young Belgian scored and got an assist in the Reading result and Gunter is aware of the danger.
“Hazard was really good that night, he’d already impressed against Wigan and he’s been involved with a lot of Chelsea’s goals, either scoring them or assisting them,” he said.
“He’s one of their main threats but it’s dangerous to just pick out one player in any game. We’ll study them and know all about their players.
“He’s been talked about for a while, he pops up all over the place and was difficult to look after, he gets in between the defence and midfield.
“But we need to worry about what we do. We’re at home and confident in doing everything we can. If we play to our maximum we can get a result even though they are a very good team.”
Gunter believes Wales have set themselves high standards in the past 12 months and is keen to hit the ground running against the much-fancied Belgians.
“There is always pressure at the start of a campaign but no one puts pressure on us as players and staff more than ourselves,” he said.
“It’s the best way to start, with a home game, and hopefully we’ll be able to build up some excitement about it.
“Momentum can be key, we want to start well and carry it on and it’s a great chance for us.”
Gunter is also looking forward to a positive reaction from the Cardiff crowd, something he rarely gets when he visits his former club in domestic games and is a boo-boy target.
“It’s strange, the reaction I get, I’m not sure about it,” he said. “A few probably forget I was a season ticket holder for four or five years and I probably went to more away games in that time than the people giving me stick!
“When you move away from a club I think it’s something you come to expect, but Cardiff in the majority have great fans. I was proud to play for them.”