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It was a very strange decision from Maurizio Sarri to drop Eden Hazard to the bench in this high profile game against German side Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of the Europa League semifinal.
Sarri made five changes to the Chelsea team that started against Manchester United last weekend, with Pedro, Olivier Giroud, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Andreas Christensen and Emerson all coming in for Hazard, Marcos Alonso, Mateo Kovacic, Antonio Rudiger and Gonzalo Higuain.
Speaking to BT Sport before the match, Sarri explained his decision to drop Hazard as he said: “We have to play five matches in two weeks with the same level of importance. We need to make changes.
“This is why Eden is on the bench. He played ten matches in a row and usually he is really able to change the match from the bench.
“After ten matches in a row he needs a rest. I don’t want him to play for 90 minutes.”
Sarri eventually brought on Hazard in the 61st minute as he took off Willian.
Speaking after the game, Sarri further explained his decision as he said: “This match was number 59 I think and Hazard also played eight matches in the national team.
“For a player it’s impossible to play 70, 75 matches in a season. Sometimes Hazard, like all the other players, needs to not play for 90 minutes. This is the first reason.
“The second is that Eden is usually able to change the match from the bench. For me it was better to start with Willian and try in the last 30 minutes with Eden.”
Hazard didn’t look entirely happy when the cameras pictured him on the bench, but Sarri revealed after the game that Hazard was alright as he was his usual self joking in the dressing room.
Sarri revealed that he told Hazard in the dressing room and the Belgian understood his decision.
The Blues boss said: “In the meeting before the match. Usually I don’t speak with the players that I put on the bench. Eden is a player – probably the best – but he is a player. Otherwise I have to speak to every player.
“He was in the dressing room as usual joking. He was normal. He knows very well sometimes he has to rest.”