Hazard: Chelsea are Europe's team to beat
Eden Hazard has claimed the whole of the continent will be gunning for Chelsea this season as he prepares to make his European debut for the club in the UEFA Super Cup.
Hazard, who has taken English football by storm since his £32million move from Lille, believes the Blues have become an even bigger scalp since their astonishing UEFA Champions League triumph last season. It was that European Cup success which convinced the 21-year-old to snub other major offers in favour of a move to Stamford Bridge, but he is fully aware how difficult the trophy will be to defend.
Indeed, no club has ever retained the Champions League crown, but Hazard is convinced it can be done. "It will be complicated as now we are the team to beat, as Chelsea won the Champions League last year," he told www.uefa.com ahead of Friday's Super Cup clash with Atletico Madrid.
"We also know it will be difficult to win it twice in a row," he added. "The most important thing is to take it one game at a time and see what we can achieve. For a club like Chelsea, the goal is to win the Champions League every year, even though we know it will be difficult."
Europa League winners Atletico narrowly failed to qualify for the Champions League, but they will look to show others the way in Monaco on Friday. But Hazard had other ideas as he eyed the first trophy of his Chelsea career. "They are a great team with great players," he said. "I hope it will be a good game and that we win, to claim my first trophy for Chelsea. But we expect nothing less than a tough match against a great team. It will not be easy."
Hazard has played just three games for Chelsea, but such has been his impact that he is already regarded by some as their key player this season. The playmaker, who will travel to Monaco with his new side tomorrow, said: "I am not here to be a star, to show off. I am here to play for my team-mates."
The ease with which Hazard has produced goals and assists has been all the more impressive considering the differences between his current and former clubs. "It's totally different," he said. "Even in the United States, we are famous. With Lille, we could have gone to the south of France and people wouldn't have recognised us. Chelsea are a very big club.
"The players are at another level, the academy is at another level as well. Everything has changed - the language has changed, the country has changed - it's up to me now to adapt," he said.