Hazard a different player from Barcelona 'genius' Iniesta - Conte

Hazard a different player from Barcelona 'genius' Iniesta - Conte
From ESPN - March 13, 2018

BARCELONA -- Antonio Conte claimed that Eden Hazard must start winning football's biggest trophies if he is to bear comparison with a "genius of football" like Andres Iniesta.

Iniesta was a fitness doubt for Barcelona against Chelsea in the second leg of a tight Champions League round-of-16 tie at Camp Nou due to a hamstring injury, but Ernesto Valverde confirmed on Tuesday that the Spain international would be in the squad.

Conte compared the World Cup winner to retired Italy legend Andrea Pirlo in terms of his ability and standing within the game, adding that he does not believe Hazard is at the same stage of his career.

"We are talking about two different players [Iniesta and Hazard]," Conte said. "Hazard is more a No. 10. Iniesta is a thinking midfielder. A midfielder that thinks and stays always in the centre of the play, of Barcelona's play.

"Hazard is more a No. 10 and, for me, can play as a false nine, a second striker. We are talking about two different players with different careers. Iniesta won a lot in his career. Hazard has to start to win important trophies in his career.

"I have great admiration for Andres Iniesta. For him and for the players who created the history of Barcelona: I am talking about [Gerard] Pique, about [Sergio] Busquets. They have many great players with great talent.

"Iniesta is a genius of football. I like to compare him with Andrea Pirlo. We are talking about a genius, a genius with a football."

Conte kept his tactical plans close to his chest in a news conference on Tuesday, but Willian hinted that Chelsea will seek to replicate the game plan -- featuring Hazard as a false nine -- that troubled Barcelona for long spells of last month's first leg at Stamford Bridge, which ended 1-1.


Continue reading at ESPN »