Real Madrid winger Eden Hazard has admitted that it was nice to catch up with some old faces following the Spanish outfit’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League last night.
Los Blancos and the Blues played out a 1-1 draw in the first-leg of their semi-final showdown, with Karim Benzema’s impressive acrobatic effort cancelling out Christian Pulisic’s calm and composed opener just before the half hour mark.
For long spells, Chelsea were the better side, dominating the game and creating no shortage of opportunities in an attempt to give them some breathing space ahead of next Wednesday’s second-leg at Stamford Bridge.
But despite delivering another hugely encouraging performance under Thomas Tuchel’s stewardship, the Blues were unable to make their dominance count in such a way that will see them head into next week’s second-leg with their noses in front in terms of a numerical advantage.
However, Chelsea do have an all-important away-goal to their name, meaning a clean-sheet next Wednesday evening would see them progress to their first Champions League final since 2012.
Reviewing his side’s performance, head coach Tuchel said: “I have a feeling that we should have won the first half and we deserved to win the first half, maybe we could have decided this match very, very early in the first half an hour when we were playing so, so strong.
“Second half was a bit of a tactical match and you could feel that we only had two days in between two away games. Both games were very demanding physically and mentally so you could feel the decision making, some ball losses, acceleration, that we suffered from it today.
“One more day [recovery] would have been great for us but it was not like this so now is the challenge to, first of all enjoy a free day for the group and then stay focused on the next challenge, go step by step.
“Next week we have to face another challenge against Real Madrid, it will be another tough one because it is the Champions League semi-final, nothing is sure. It is half time and we need to fight for every centimetre and advantage that we want to have, we need to fight and to deserve it.”
Whilst Chelsea will most certainly fancy their chances of getting the better of Zinedine Zidane’s side and progressing to the final, they may have to contend with former winger.
Recently returning from an injury lay-off, Hazard stepped off the bench last night to play the final 24 minutes of the contest. But with some more minutes now stored in his armoury, the Belgian ace could be in a strong enough condition to start the contest in west London next Wednesday evening.
While he may have only made a cameo appearance last night, the winger was delighted to have faced his former club.
Taking to Instagram after the game, Hazard said: “Great finish Karim Benzema. Nice to see some old friends!”
Hazard spent seven years at Stamford Bridge before making the switch to the Bernabeu in 2019, meaning last night’s clash will have seen him reunited with a whole host of former teammates, ranging from Antonio Rudiger to N’Golo Kante.
Regardless of what the outcome of next Wednesday evening’s clash is, Hazard’s dream of facing his former club in the Champions League has, at least, come true.
Hazard, speaking in 2019 after leaving the Blues, said: “Chelsea and especially Chelsea fans will always be special to me and next season I will look for your results first.
“I hope that we are drawn against each other in the Champions League and every season so we can meet again.”