Hazard hits raw nerve at Bridge

Eden Hazard walked into a storm after giving an interview following Chelsea’s Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid on French TV station BeInSport in which he appeared to criticise the tactics of coach Jose Mourinho.

Hazard hits raw nerve at Bridge

But in the context of his interview, the Belgian winger, answering questions from reporter Florian Genton, appeared to give a fair assessment of his team’s style of play. Perhaps of more concern to the Chelsea hierarchy was his view that he feels he is the only creative player expected to make the difference for his side when it counts.

“Despite the fact we are not the best at holding on to or keeping the ball, I think I see a lot of the ball,” Hazard said.

“Much of our play comes through me, but it’s true that I’m often expected to make a difference on my own and sometimes that’s not easy. Atletico defended very well. And it was a complicated match. But that will serve as a lesson for us. And I hope next year we will go further.”

Before then, Genton had asked Hazard about Mourinho’s pre-match talk and said: “You only had Fernando Torres up front and you were very compact in defence, waiting to explode...”

Hazard replied: “That’s our technique, that’s what works best for us. Chelsea are not made for playing football. I think Chelsea are a bit like Real Madrid in that we play on the counter-attack. I think we did that well in the first half and we scored a goal, but I think their goal just before half-time killed us a bit. I think our morale was low in the dressing room because of that goal. In the second half, we never found a way through to score a second goal.”

Like Mourinho, Hazard was gracious in defeat and congratulated 3-1 winners Atletico on what he considered a fair result.

“We were on top in the match when they scored. Both teams have a similar way of playing but they played a bit more than us and I think they deserved their victory,” Hazard said. “Especially as they played very well in the first leg, when they could not make the most of their scoring opportunities.

“It was a very intense match, I think it was a great match to watch with plenty of chances. I’m sad, but I think it’s a logical result.”

Hazard went on to explain that even though it was his first game for 22 days after picking up a calf injury in the last round against Paris Saint-Germain, he felt his fitness was not a problem. And even though he twice lost his man Juanfran, who crossed for Adrian and Arda Turan to score goals, he was happy with his own performance.

“Frankly, I felt good on the pitch,” he told Genton.

“I was a bit anxious at the beginning of the match because I wondered if I was going to be able to last the whole game. But I felt no pain. I’m happy with my match, I would have liked to do better to help the team win but I’m happy with my game considering I had not played for three weeks. Now I will look to get my rhythm back for the end of the season.”

While the intricacies of Hazard’s comments will be pored over, he ended his interview with words of praise for the winners.

“They are very strong,” he said. And perhaps knowing that on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and centre-forward Diego Costa may be joining him at Chelsea next season, he added: “They have good players throughout the team: from the goalkeeper, Thibaut, who played very well again tonight, to their centre-forward who was very useful.”

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