Eden Hazard was named on Chelsea’s bench (Picture: Getty)Maurizio Sarri has explained his decision to bench Eden Hazard for Chelsea’s Europa League clash at Eintracht Frankfurt
Speaking to BT Sport before the match, Sarri 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.’
Hazard is one of five changes made to the Chelsea team that started against Manchester United last weekend.
Pedro, Olivier Giroud, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Andreas Christesen and Emerson all come in as Marcos Alonso, Mateo Kovacic and Gonzalo Higuain drop to the bench.
Reacting to Sarri’s decision to bench Hazard, Glenn Hoddle said: ‘We’re sitting here scratching our heads – why would you leave him out?
‘I really cant understand why you wouldn’t play your best player in the semi-final. You need your star players. For the life of me I can’t understand it.
The team sheets are in!
Here’s how we line up against Eintracht Frankfurt this evening. 💪#FRACHE pic.twitter.com/cjjR0Vt5er
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 2, 2019
‘The Frankfurt dressing room has been given a big lift.’
Owen Hargreaves added: ‘His whole life he’s been playing multiple games in a week. It’s a big risk. It needs to come good for Sarri.
‘No way do you ever leave one of the best players in Europe out for a game like this.’
Former Arsenal player Lee Dixon was also critical of the decision, saying: ‘Eden Hazard on the bench?
‘If the manager came in and said he was leaving me out I’d say, I don’t care who you are, what you’ve won in the game, this is what the season is all about!
‘It’s what you do all your prep for, play all those games, get to the semi-final which is arguably the most nerve-racking game. To rest him for Watford, I’m sorry, I can’t see it.’