Eden Hazard is rapidly becoming one of the finest attacking players in Europe, says Southampton manager Ronald Koeman.
Hazard netted twice on Tuesday evening as Chelsea thrashed Slovenian side Maribor 6-0 at Stamford Bridge to cement top spot in Champions League Group G.
Koeman watched the Blues’ cruise in the Sky Sports studio and raved about the Belgian maestro afterwards, even comparing him to a pair of Barcelona kingpins.
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And the Saints boss believes that if Brazilian-born Spanish hotshot Diego Costa returns quickly from his hamstring injury, Chelsea will be hard to topple.
“Hazard is playing on a very high level,” said Koeman, who won the European Cup with PSV Eindhoven in 1988 and Barcelona in 1992. “You can compare how he is playing with Neymar and Luis Suarez because he made the difference.
“Chelsea have a good defence and are physical in midfield but if Costa comes back in a good physical state, he will make the difference as [Didier] Drogba is respected but not what he was.”
Koeman’s former side Barcelona, meanwhile, boosted their hopes of reaching the knockout stages with a 3-1 triumph at home to another of the Dutchman’s ex-employers, Ajax.
The Catalans sit a point behind Paris Saint-Germain at the summit of Group F, but four clear of third-placed Ajax ahead of the reverse fixture at the Amsterdam ArenA on November 5.
We saw 65 minutes of gold from Messi and Barcelona playing PlayStation football with the pace they were zipping the ball around at.
Lionel Messi was on the scoresheet for Barcelona on Tuesday and Sky Sports pundit Glenn Hoddle reckons the Argentinian wizard is back to his best after struggling to maintain full fitness last term.
“He has gone up a gear with his movements and the sharpness of his feet,” Hoddle said of Messi, whose goal against Ajax was sandwiched by strikes from Neymar and 19-year-old forward Sandro.
“We didn’t see that in the World Cup with Argentina or the backend of last year with Barcelona, when I think he was playing injured.
“If you look at the stats from the World Cup he stood still more than any other player but he is now always on the move.”
Champions League Matchday Three concludes on Wednesday night with a vital set of fixtures, including Real Madrid’s trip to Liverpool, Arsenal’s visit to Anderlecht and Galatasaray’s game with Borussia Dortmund.
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