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Dzeko vs Hazard rematch in Rome

Rome (AFP) – Edin Dzeko versus Eden Hazard — Tuesday’s Champions League clash between Roma and Chelsea in the Stadio Olympico could turn out to be one between the two star forwards.

Both Roma’s Dzeko and Chelsea’s Hazard scored two goals apiece in the six-goal European thriller in Stamford Bridge on October 18.

Belgian playmaker Hazard, formed a good partnership behind striker Alvaro Morata up front, as Chelsea raced to a two goal lead.

But with two goals from Dzeko, Roma turned the game around before Hazard bailed Chelsea out of trouble in the 3-3 draw.

And the pair are expected to be a key part of Eusebio Di Francesco and Antonio Conte’s plans for the Group C return leg in Rome’s Stadio Olympico on Tuesday night.

Chelsea currently top the group with seven points from three games — two ahead of Roma — and can qualify for the last-16 with two games to spare if Atletico Madrid fail to beat Qarabag in Spain on Wednesday.

And Hazard has warned he is ready to hit top form in a pivotal week for the Londoners after scoring the winner in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Bournemouth.

The win kept champions Chelsea nine points adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester City before next weekend’s game against Manchester United.

“I’m training hard, the injury is the past. I’m fully ready for the next game, I just want to play,” Hazard told Chelsea TV.

Hazard, 26, missed the start of the season after ankle surgery but has been gaining momentum claiming three goals in as many Chelsea games in all competitions.

– ‘Massive’ –

“A big week is coming for me, so it was important also for the confidence to stay high. We are full of confidence now, two big games in Champions League and Premier League. And we are ready to play both.”

“It’s a massive win, massive,” Hazard added.

“We should have scored more goals, but we did well in defending together and at the end of the game we had the three points, and that’s the most important thing.

“We know the quality of the team that we can score at any time. So we did, I did, and it’s important because we won.”

Hazard — who played a key role in Belgium’s qualification for the 2018 World Cup — joined Chelsea in 2012 from French club Lille. Since then he has scored 58 goals in 181 appearances for the London club.

But his opposite number in Rome 31-year-old former Manchester City forward Dzeko has equally impressive statistics scoring 72 times in 189 games in England before heading for Italy in 2015.

Last season, he scored 29 league goals for Roma, helping them to second place in Serie A and was a surprise inclusion to the 30-man shortlist for the year’s Ballon D’Or award.

So far in this campaign, he has scored ten goals in all competitions — seven in Serie A — despite firing blanks in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Bologna as Roma stay fifth seven points adrift of leaders Napoli. 

“Dzeko had opportunities, he told me that the goal is held for Tuesday, but he was up front chasing down opponents on every ball,” warned Di Francesco.

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