Pitchside

Hazard gives Chelsea hope of PSG turnaround

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Chelsea have it all to do in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final, but where there is Eden Hazard, there is hope, according to our friends at Squawka.

Chelsea face the momentous task of overcoming a 3-1 first leg defeat against French outfit Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday evening. The Blues suffered a comprehensive defeat at Parc des Princes last Wednesday, creating the conditions for an enthralling return fixture.

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are a formidable force at Stamford Bridge and the team has the quality required to record an aggregate victory. Laurent Blanc’s side will be cautious on their travels, the Frenchman will be as aware of any how deadly the Premier League giants can be on home soil.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the Blues also have an away goal in their favour. A compact first half performance last week was ultimately undone by defensive errors during the second period. But, a short spell of momentum, the visitors were able to snatch a goal from the penalty spot.

It was Eden Hazard who buried this eventual consolation strike and it’s this man who could prove the key driving force behind any chance of progression. The Belgian ace has been linked with a move to PSG in recent months, yet his contribution could prove vital in bringing down the Ligue 1 giants.

Anything is possible in the return leg, especially when Mourinho has the talent of the 23-year-old at his disposal. The attacker has accumulated a Squawka Performance Score of 1259 - the best in the Chelsea team - and his expertise will be called upon yet again when PSG come to London.

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Jose Mourinho fears this task could be beyond his squad – especially given their total lack of a complete striker - but Hazard will have other ideas. In the absence of an in-form frontman, the attacking midfielder has taken the club’s goalscoring burden, offering a total of 16 strikes to date (in the Champions League and the Premier League) . His contribution in front of goal has been absolutely vital to the Blues success this term.

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He offers an abundance of flair and dribbling ability, allowing him to ease past defenders in an attempt to formulate danger in the final third of the pitch. This will be the greatest threat posed to the current Ligue 1 leaders. He has found success in 122 take-ons (62 per cent completion rate) – more than any other player in the Premier League this season. His skill is often too much for the opposition to manage, hence he has drawn 86 fouls. He has the ability to create danger from the unlikeliest of situations and PSG will need to be wary from start to finish.

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Premier League Top Take-Ons

Be it on down the flank, or from a more central position, Hazard has the capability to leave a defender for dead, before playing a deft pass or even shooting for himself. His right foot is absolutely deadly and thanks to such skill he is capable of scoring from anywhere inside the final third.

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PL Top Key Passers

What’s more, in the top-flight this term he has created an impressive 87 chances, assisting seven goals, whilst in Europe he has fashioned nine opportunities for his team mates. No player in the Premier League has created more than Chelsea's Belgian wizard.

Just seconds after coming on as a substitute against Stoke, he played a delightful backheel to Mohamed Salah who was then brought down in the penalty area. This nifty piece of skill proved simply but extremely effective – similar touches have become a key feature of the Belgian’s game.

Hazard has proven he holds no fear this season and he has continued to step up for Chelsea when needed the most. There is no greater example of him fielding such responsibility than in the weeks before Christmas. During this period the Blues were struggling for form, but Hazard saw his side through.

In December and January we were treated to spectacular goals against Sunderland, Swansea, Liverpool and Hull. All of which were pivotal in helping the team emerge with maximum points. Jose Mourinho will be hoping to see the Belgian’s heroics on show again tomorrow evening.

A comeback and a half will be called for in South West London if Chelsea are to live to fight another day in Europe’s elite club competition. However, with a player of Hazard’s quality amongst the ranks, anything is possible.

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