Chelsea forward Eden Hazard has said he is looking forward to facing Lionel Messi when his side host Barcelona in Tuesday evening’s Champions League tie at Stamford Bridge.
Hazard has been compared to Messi in countless occasions of late, with interest emerging from Barca’s main La Liga rivals, Real Madrid.
The Belgian international has been in superb form this season and has been touted as a future Ballon d’Or winner, whilst Messi has been in typically great form, making Tuesday’s game, a mouth watering tie to say the least.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the game, Hazard was quizzed on the comparisons, but he chose to play them down, saying he was a different sort of footballer.
“First it is good to be compared with the greatest ever, but I am completely different,” Hazard said.
“We play in different leagues. I try and do my job, I try to reach that level, their level, because they are the best in the world.
“To play against Messi is always good. I did once in the World Cup (for Belgium v Argentina in 2014) and we lost the game, so I hope tomorrow is going to be different.”
The La Liga leaders will have to fare without Philippe Coutinho who is ineligible after featuring in the group stage for Liverpool and Nelson Semedo who losses out due to suspension.
Thomas Vermaelen and Ousmane Dembele are set to travel to London following their comeback from injuries, with the latter looking to compete with Paulinho for a start on the right flank.
With one Spaniard proving the difference last time, Conte may opt to recall Alvaro Morata to the starting line-up following his return to fitness for Olivier Giroud.
Marcos Alonso comes back into the home side after a three-game absence but Tiemone Bakayoko is unlikely to feature.
There are also doubts for David Luiz and Ross Barkley as the duo look to gain match fitness.