Eden Hazard has called Chelsea’s disappointing — and somewhat surprising — UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain a “blessing in disguise,” noting the Blues are now free to focus solely on their chase to win the Premier League title.
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With nine league games still to play, Jose Mourinho’s side currently hold a comfortable six-point lead over second-placed Manchester City. Chelsea also have a game in hand, against bottom side Leicester City, over their title rivals.
Speaking to French newspaper L’Equipe this week, Hazard had the following to say of Chelsea’s season:
“We were a little disappointed. At home, against 10 men, when you lead twice you should qualify. But on the other hand, if we had gone through to the quarterfinals, the fixture list would have been so hard to try and continue on all fronts. It is perhaps a blessing in disguise. We could have lost everything.
“Over the two games, Paris deserve their qualification. They played better than we did. Now, we only have the league. Our Champions League exit has not left a scar. We are going to have to win as many matches as possible to win a second trophy after the League Cup. That would be a good season.”
While I understand the point Hazard is trying to make, I’m not so sure I actually buy it. “Continue on all front?” Chelsea are out of the FA Cup, meaning it would be just two competitions in which they would be competing. Chasing the league title while forging a serious Champions League challenge is something the world’s top teams do on a yearly basis. Surely the Chelsea players still think of themselves as that — a top European team.
If I were a Chelsea fan, I wouldn’t love hearing these unambitious comments from the club’s best player and one of the world’s best.