Football

Morata: EPL defenders are tactically sloppy

Morata says scoring chances come easier in England but strikers need to 'fight with centre backs'

Premier League new boy Alvaro Morata might have unwittingly made himself the prime target for EPL defenders after saying they are "tactically sloppy".

The Spain striker, who moved from Real Madrid to Chelsea for a club-record £58 million (S$102m) in July, made the comments to Spanish daily El Pais.

"Tactically, Chelsea are Italian, you have to conform to a system," said the 24-year-old.

"The striker has to be a reference point for his teammates.

"You need to fight with the centre backs and they're much stronger physically than in any other country.

"It's true that they're sloppy tactically and they give you chances because they slip up, but it's a different kind of football.

"In Spain, you have time to think and hold on to the ball.

"Here, if you hold the ball, you'll already have been given two kicks."

Morata's teammate Eden Hazard's silky style may have made him a victim of many of those kicks, but the Belgian believes the reigning English champions can thrive not just in the rough and tumble EPL, but in all competitions.

He told The Daily Mail: "Every year, it is difficult - especially when you play in many competitions.

"This year, we have the Champions League as well and it is not easy to succeed in multiple competitions.

"But we will do our best and we have got depth in our squad so sometimes maybe one or two players can rest so they are 110 per cent for the next competition.

"We just want to win as many trophies as possible, for me personally, I haven't won the Champions League so maybe that one would be a little bit more special, but I would prefer us to win everything."

Belgium became the first European nation to clinch qualification for the 2018 World Cup yesterday morning (Singapore time) after a 2-1 win over Greece guaranteed them top spot in Group H.

But Hazard, who came on as a substitute for Moussa Dembele in yesterday morning's match, believes that winning a trophy with Belgium would be tougher than with Chelsea.

He said: "Maybe the World Cup with Belgium is the most difficult one.

"We haven't won anything before, so it would be the first time, and maybe that's why it is more difficult.

"However, we have got a good team and a good manager with some interesting young players so everything is possible."

In a separate interview with Spanish daily Marca, the playmaker again left the door ajar to a move to La Liga.

He said: "I play for one of the best clubs in England, but the Spanish league is special. Why not? For the moment, I'm here."

Hazard added that Real Madrid are the world's best team and waxed lyrical about their coach Zinedine Zidane.

He said: "This guy (Zidane) wins everything as a player and as a manager. He is a special guy.

"On the pitch, everyone knows who he is.

"When we think about football, we think about Zidane because he could do everything.

"And now even outside the pitch he does everything. This guy is magic."

Considering it took Paris St Germain 222 million euros (S$358m) to prise Neymar away from Barcelona, how much would it cost to buy Hazard?

Laughing, the Belgian told The Daily Mail: "One billion! No, I am just kidding. No, not one billion... I haven't got an answer for that one." - WIRE SERVICES

FootballeplCHELSEA (EPL)