Eden Hazard has alluded to Chelsea boss Antonio Conte in no uncertain terms that he favours a return to his natural wing position in the second leg of the last-16 Champions League tie against Barcelona, after deeming his time wasted in the false nine position during the 1-1 draw on Tuesday.
Conte opted to overlook natural strikers Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud during the first leg at Stamford Bridge, trusting Hazard to lead the line. However, the 27-year-old often found himself isolated and cut adrift from the action as Barcelona dominated possession.
The Belgium international was reinstated to his favoured position when Morata joined proceedings late in the game, and Hazard hopes Conte will opt for a change in formation to suit his abilities when the Blues travel to Camp Nou on March 14.
Hazard said (as quoted by the Daily Star): “In games like this against a quality opposition, it’s difficult. You don’t get a lot of balls. I think I might have touched 25 balls - and 15 of them were flying toward my head!
“That’s not really playing with my qualities. I’ve won some aerial duels - hey against Gerard Pique! I think it’s not bad, my man.
If we don't want to play the strikers we have mugjt as well sell them or loan them. Hazard is on 🔥 when he plays on the wing and it's natural for him to play that position. We saw how Giroud linked with him. Oh but no we will bench the strikers and play him false 9 ffs!— Kool AJ (@Kiyazaj) February 22, 2018
“If I had to chose, I prefer to play like I did in the last 10 minutes, but it’s the manager who has the final word.
“On the wing I feel more comfortable. That’s my place. We’re going to see how we will play in Barcelona. We have to give the maximum. We have to win.”
Conte justified his formation following the match as he said: “Playing Alvaro Morata from the start, with him and Eden Hazard, without Willian or Pedro, would’ve lost our balance. It would’ve been suicidal.”
However, before Chelsea can return their attention back to Barcelona they must first contend with Premier League clashes against both Manchester clubs and Crystal Palace as well as their FA Cup sixth round fixture against Leicester.