Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

Fixtures & Results

England ENG 2

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Russia RUS 2 (3)

Croatia CRO 2 (4)

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France FRA 1

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England ENG 1

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Belgium BEL 2

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France FRA 4

Croatia CRO 2

Full Time

Chelsea Euro bid too big a hurdle: Hazard

By Jim van Wijk

Eden Hazard feels it was always going to prove difficult for Chelsea to mount a successful Premier League title defence on their return to Europe.

Blues boss Antonio Conte has found his position under scrutiny in the wake of successive three-goal defeats, with Monday's 4-1 loss at Watford leaving them 19 points behind leaders Manchester City.

The players are set to return to training at Cobham today after three days off as focus switches to Monday's league visit of West Brom to Stamford Bridge.

Belgium midfielder Hazard accepts it has been a testing season for the Blues, who nevertheless remain in the top four of the Premier League, are through to the FA Cup fifth round and will soon face Barcelona in their Champions League last-16 tie.

"I think the Premier League is difficult. It is hard to win every year," Hazard said.

"Last year we didn't have the Champions League. This year we have less time to be ready for the games. Every week there are three games."

Despite Chelsea's inconsistencies, Hazard believes the unpredictability of the English top flight - which has recently seen Bournemouth win 3-0 at Stamford Bridge and relegation battlers Swansea defeat both Arsenal and Liverpool - is what makes it such an attractive competition.

"That's why we love football - if there is only one team that wins it would be boring. That's why football is special," the midfielder added.

"You never know what's going to happen, especially in England."

Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique and Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone have both been linked with Conte's job.

It is understood there was no board meeting on Tuesday to discuss the manager's future and the club's position remains unchanged.

Belfast Telegraph

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