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Mar 15, 2013

Hazard: Europa draw not ideal

In-fighting, angry fans and a very early exit from the Champions League leaves Chelsea with very little else to get excited about this season

Eden Hazard believes Friday's Europa League quarter-final draw, which handed Chelsea a tie against Rubin Kazan, could have been kinder on the Blues.

• Europa League draw

The Premier League club welcome Rubin to Stamford Bridge for the first leg on April 4 before facing a trip to Russia for the return game on April 11.

With Chelsea still involved in the FA Cup, they face a packed schedule over the next few weeks – something Hazard feels has not been helped by having to travel so far across the continent.

"From a geographical point of view we probably would have preferred a different draw,'' Hazard told the club's official website. "We have to get through and playing in Russia is never an easy game. However, we have to make sure we do enough in the first leg to go over there and secure our place in the semi-finals.''

Up next for Chelsea is the visit of West Ham in the league on Sunday, and the Belgium international feels a win is vital for his team if they want to be playing in the Champions League next season.

"Three points are a must for us on Sunday - we need to win the match,'' he said. "Chelsea are a big club - we have to win titles and to qualify for the Champions League. There's a lot to do but we'll try to do it all.''

Chelsea booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League thanks to Thursday night's 3-1 win over Steaua Bucharest.

Hazard feels the Blues could actually benefit from playing two games in quick succession, with West Ham playing just their second match of the month.

"It might favour us at the start of the game because we should be able to set the tempo and get into our stride quicker because we've been more used to playing competitive games recently,'' Hazard said. "But where it might favour them slightly is the fact that towards the end of the game tiredness may set in for us, while in effect they should be stronger because they've had a bit of a rest. It's something we have to deal with, and with the support of our fans behind us I'm sure we will be able to.''

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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