Chelsea face FC Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge in a must-win, final game of Group E. For Eden Hazard, who discusses the match with the official Chelsea website, it is a familiar challenge.
The Blues must beat the Danish club and hope Shakhtar Donetsk can do the same against Juventus in Ukraine, if we are to qualify for the first knock-out round.
It is a situation that Chelsea fans are not particularly used to, but midfielder Hazard is feeling a sense of déjà vu.
‘Everything depends on the last match, unfortunately,’ the Belgian tells the official Chelsea website.
‘We have to get a result from the last match whatever happens elsewhere and at Lille last season it was the same, we absolutely had to win but we did not succeed, sadly.’
Hazard was part of the Lille side that drew 0-0 with Turkish club Trabzonspor in the final game of their group in last year’s Champions League, a result that saw CSKA Moscow progress at their expense.
Les Dogues had struggled to find consistent form throughout the group stage but in the fifth game they beat CSKA in Moscow 2-0 to keep them in the reckoning. Hazard’s movement and passing proved indispensable on the night, but prior to that they drew their first two games and lost home and away to Inter.
Hazard had made a significant contribution in the initial 1-1 draw away to Turkish club Trabzonspor, assisting Mouassa Sow’s solitary goal, but despite the parallels between the standings of his current and former club going into the final group game, he maintains there is a difference.
‘At Chelsea the aim is to win the competition, whereas at Lille the aim was to get past the first stage. It is also different with the supporters because here they expect you to win games. You feel the greater expectations.
‘But there are similarities, yes indeed, and I hope this year we do manage to get past the group stages.’
Integral to beating Nordsjaelland will be the influence of our potentially formidable midfield. The speed at which the trio of Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar adapted to playing together was vital to our successes early this campaign. The former Lille man reflects on this, while admitting there are aspects of his game he could yet improve.
‘We are all quite similar,’ he says. ‘We are small players and we like to play with the ball at our feet. As soon as we started playing together we understood each other really well on the pitch – now the most important thing is that it helps us to win matches because that’s what really matters.
‘There are always things that you want to improve. I’ve played some good games and some bad games.
‘The important thing is to concentrate every match and try to do better so you have no regrets after the game, saying “I should have done this and I should have done that”. Every match you play, you have to play to your best and be more consistent, scoring more goals. That’s the thing.’
Fortunately Hazard has the benefit of a Champions League-winning squad from which to gain advice and inspiration, an opportunity he is keen to take.
‘There are some really great players here, stars like Frank Lampard, like John Terry. We have an amazing keeper too in Petr [Cech]. These are big names – defenders and attackers. The team is full of stars and full of talent to learn from.’
By Ben Lovell-Viggers.