By Paul Lagan – firstname.lastname@example.org
Marcos Alonso is under no illusions that this week signals a potential turning point in a stop-start season.
Tonight the Blues face Roma in the Champions League before heading into the international Break with a visit of Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United on Sunday.
Spanish defender Alonso is so happy they beat Bournemouth 1-0 at the weekend.
He said: “It’s is going to be a very important week for us with games against Roma and Manchester United. We had to beat Bournemouth and we played a very good game.”
One player whose form has caught the eye again is Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard, and Alonso recognises how vital he is to Chelsea.
“He is very important for Chelsea and has to make the difference for us,” said Alonso.
“He’s a crucial player for us. Obviously we have other players and they did very well when he wasn’t available. But if Eden is 100 per cent fit, he is one of the best players in the world.”
Zipping down the left wing with Hazard in front of him, makes for a compelling sight. And Alonso is happy to know he’s there.
“I have had a very good understanding with him since the first day I joined the club,” he said.
“It’s easy to play with the best.
“When you come back from a long-term injury, it is never easy to get back to 100 per cent. I think he is playing at a very good level, but I know he will get better and better.
“Even though he was injured he trained very well. Now with the way we train it is easy for him to get back to full fitness. He will build up from the start of the season, he will get better and better, more confident with his ankle and play better every game.”
In tight games like against Roma and Roma, players like Hazard could be a key difference between a win or a defeat.
“Yes, definitely,” agreed Alonso. He is one of our top players, but we also have Pedro, Alvaro Morata. That’s why they play up there and they make the difference. On Saturday it was Eden that helped us get the three points.”
Don’t forget your self that group?
“Yes, I played a very good game,” he said. “We controlled it during the 90 minutes, we had a lot of possession that we were missing in the last couple of games. We also defended very well. We didn’t concede either and that is the way we have to keep going.”
Does it help to build confidence?
“Yes, it was a massive thing for us, to start a very difficult week well. We are here with a good feeling and we will have to play a very good game tonight to win.”
Alonso knows how intimidating the Stadio Olimpico is from hisFiorentina days?
“I have very good memories from playing there. I scored against them in the Quarter Finals of the Europa League, we won 3-0. But we saw how good they are at Stamford Bridge last time around. They are playing very good football. We will have to be 100 per focused.”
What made them so good at the Bridge?
“They have quality players,” he said. “You have to have that to play in the Champions League. You have to play well and be organised. We saw that from Roma at Stamford Bridge, we managed to get a point but we will be going for the three points in Rome.
“The performance against Atletico Madrid is a good example to the level we have to perform at tonight. We are working for this. We had a couple of days to get ready for it so we will look to produce a similar performance.
“Chelsea’s standard is to win every game. Some days we will play better and sometimes the other team will not make it possible. We have to fight every game.”
Alonso suggests that the players are coming together to fight against outside forces.
“There are people around trying to destabilise,” he suggest.
“To try to make things not go easy for us. But we have to focus on training, perform in games and that’s all that matters at the end of the season.
“We have come together stronger as a group. In any difficult moments, it is always good for the team when we fight and work together. “That’s what we have done over the last few weeks so it is a good time for us to play a good game tonight.”