Hazard: Pointless for attackers to defend
Chelsea star says he will be 'useless' after 60 minutes if he defends
He saw 32 minutes of action against Qarabag in the 6-0 Champions League Group C win two weeks ago and played for 18 minutes against Stoke in Chelsea's 4-0 win last Saturday.
Eden Hazard has not featured much for the Blues after recovering from an ankle operation in June, but manager Antonio Conte gave the strongest hint yet that the Belgian playmaker is in contention to start against Atletico Madrid tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
"I think now Eden is improving a lot and, for sure, he's in contention for Atletico Madrid," said Conte.
"After a bad injury and surgery, you need time. He's almost ready to play but, if I make this decision, it will be because I'm comfortable with it.
"I think we are managing him very well. Other players are also very important for us and now it's important to be sure he's ready."
Hazard has been criticised in the past for not contributing enough to the defensive side of things, and the 26-year-old risked incurring the wrath of Conte by insisting that he does not need to track back and help out in defence.
Speaking to France Football magazine, Hazard said: "You don't need that (tracking back to help out the defence).
"You can write that. Don't tell Conte, but you can write that it's pointless.
"If you defend too much, you tire yourself out.
There are people who are meant to defend, while others are there to attack.Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard
"If I've spent the whole game defending, forget about me being useful after the 60th minute, and I'm quite fit.
"There are people who are meant to defend, while others are there to attack. After that, it's up to the manager.
"If that's what he wants, you need to do it, otherwise you sit on the bench.
"I defend too. I don't like it, but I have to with Antonio."
It remains to be seen if Hazard will start his first Chelsea game this season tomorrow morning, but one player who will be one of the first names to be pencilled into the first XI is Alvaro Morata.
The 24-year-old striker, though, is unlikely to get a warm reception from Atletico fans because of his past association with Real Madrid, Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said.
Chelsea's record signing Morata joined from Real for £58 million (S$105.7 million) in the close season and has made a flying start to life at Stamford Bridge. The Spaniard hit his first hat-trick for the club against Stoke.
Courtois, who spent three seasons on loan at Real's rivals Atletico, said his teammate at the other end of the pitch would have to prepare for a "big game" at the Wanda Metropolitano.
"He will get a different one from me. Alvaro played a lot of games against Atletico. I think he scored, I am not sure, so for him it will be a big game against his rivals," Courtois told Chelsea's official website.
"For me, it will be more friendly but, in the 90 minutes we are playing, there will be rivalry for me as well because they want their team to win.
"We know he is a top striker. We know he has this ability and we're very happy for him that he scored his hat-trick... A striker lives on goals and he has already scored a few important ones this season." - WIRE SERVICES
- Qarabag v Roma