Chelsea bully Hull and rest Hazard in perfect preparation for Barcelona

Chelsea may have secured their place in the quarter finals of the FA Cup with an emphatic 4-0 win over Hull City on Friday, but the real prize was that the match served as a perfect exhibition ahead of their encounter with Barcelona in the Champions League.

Chelsea bully Hull and rest Hazard in perfect preparation for Barcelona

Chelsea bully Hull and rest Hazard in perfect preparation for Barcelona

Antonio Conte had one eye on Tuesday's last-16 tie against the Catalan side as he rested Eden Hazard, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Thibaut Courtois and N'Golo Kante for the clash at Stamford Bridge.

Meanwhile, those who did play needed the minutes as they returned from injury or a lack of match action.

Willian and Olivier Giroud started as they came back from hamstring injuries, while Alvaro Morata came off the bench as he builds up match fitness from his lay off with a back problem and will likely start against Barca on Tuesday night.

Emerson Palmieiri made an impressive debut considering he has been out for six months with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, having only made one start and one substitute appearance for Roma since getting fit again.

Hull City were always going to struggle with 10 or so first team players out to suspension or injury and their three Chelsea loanees in Ola Aina, Michael Hector and Fikayo Tomori were ineligible.

The rested players will likely return for the midweek game but there are places up for grabs in the remaining positions. Danny Drinkwater is in contention to start, with Tiemoue Bakayoko out injured and Conte considering making it a three man midfield against the Spanish league leaders.

Ethan Ampadu, 17, made his seventh appearance for the club and it was the seventh time since his summer move from minnows Exeter City that he has proved he is good enough to start games for his club.

Pedro was given a rest when he was replaced at half time to allow Callum Hudson-Odoi, one of most talented academy graduates, to get a run out, and Kyle Scott also made his debut after making several matchday squads and not getting on this season.

Against lesser opposition, Chelsea discovered a Barcelona-like swagger that completely tore apart a depleted Hull side. Willian's first goal was a thing of beauty as he swivelled, feinted and curled a finish in on his weaker left foot.


Pedro got the second as Fabregas dictated the tempo of the game and was afforded all the time and space in midfield that he should never be given, while Willian made it 3-0 with his 10th goal of the season and another long-range effort.

Willy Caballero even saved a penalty just after half-time - his fifth save from eight spot kicks.

It was a good time to rack up another big win after losing 4-1 to Watford and 3-0 to Bournemouth within the space of days just two weeks ago, which could have seen confidence plummet with bigger tests to come as they face Barca at home before consecutive away trips to Manchester United and Manchester City.

Progressing to the next round of the tournament was important for Conte's side, but they also needed to be in shape for these huge games with league rivals and a respectable performance needed in Europe.

Olivier Giroud

Chelsea get an extra day's rest over Barcelona, who play a league match against Eibar that they need to win on Saturday afternoon.

The football gods were kind on Chelsea to give them an easy match with the arrival of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta looming at Stamford Bridge.

Maybe Chelsea are not dead and buried already with so many writing them off in all competitions, the FA Cup remains their best hope of silverware but it would be wrong not to dream of another European success too.

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