Real Madrid: This is a time to have Eden Hazard’s back

Real Madrid fans need to have Eden Hazard’s back right now.

Real Madrid’s pursuit of their 34th league title continued with ease as they brushed aside a regelation-battling Alavés side to maintain their 4-point lead over rivals Barcelona with just three games to go. The 2-0 win was their eighth consecutive victory since the resumption of LaLiga.

The fans watching from home got a glimpse of the Belgian and he played as a false 9 coming off the bench. The three points were already secured when Eden Hazard was brought on and he was not really needed to make a big impact by scoring or assisting.

Hazard has had his problems this season, and it is never easy to return to top form immediately after recovering from an injury, especially when you have had a relapse which was treated by a surgery. Such things need to be treated with a lot of caution.

His appearance off the bench wasn’t quite a notable one, and many fans would agree with that. He replaced Karim Benzema, who experience a niggle of his own in his right hamstring, and played as the central forward. He dropped more towards the right in stoppage time as Isco played on the left and Vinícius Jr. was playing both of the left and the right.

Fans have been rather impatient with him. One thing they must understand is that a player needs time when he moves to a new club in a different country with different surroundings. A player needs time to adjust to the team’s playing style and needs to feel at home with the coach’s tactics as well.

Eden Hazard hasn’t had a poor season by a fair distance. He did start slowly, but his performances improved, and the October-November phase, where he used to take the responsibility and waltz at defences using his slick footwork and hypnotic dribbling, was reminiscent of his days as a Chelsea talisman.

However, an untimely injury against PSG put a halt to Hazard’s momentum. He was out of action for three months and also missed the matches against FC Barcelona and Manchester City. He did make his return in February but another injury suffered against Levante almost ruled out of action for the entire season.

The enforced lockdown meant that Eden Hazard had a lot of time to recover from his injury. Once Real Madrid returned to training, Hazard was in scintillating form as he was hands down the best player during all the training sessions. He even started the first two games since the resumption of La Liga against Eibar and Valencia, providing assists for two goals in those two appearances. His charismatic chemistry with Karim Benzema only seemed to refine more.

The game against Espanyol was a strange one as he looked disoriented on the pitch. He wasn’t taking on defenders and his passing was off the radar too. His performance that day reminded me of Gareth Bale’s performances in recent seasons – a total lack of desire and intensity to produce something and orchestrate the attack.

Zidane mentioned pre-game that he felt discomfort in his ankle, which is why dropping him out of the squad was a precautionary measure to not aggravate the pain. Hazard was a part of the squad, and having not started the game, Zidane was clever to use him as a substitute and give him such much-needed game time ahead of the trip to Granada and the home fixture against an in-form Villareal side.

Speaking about what to expect from Eden Hazard moving forward, we need to consider a lot of things in mind. Real Madrid need just 5 points to win the title, and regardless of Hazard’s absence or presence, Los Blancos always have their A-game on display.

If I were Zidane, I would keep Hazard on the bench against Granada, bring him on for the last 15-20 minutes, and give him a start against a free-flowing Villareal side. Starting against Villareal will give the Belgian an attacking impetus as he will have truckloads of space to exploit. This will boost his confidence and help him shrug off the injury woes heading into the Champions League return leg against Manchester City.

Hazard needs to be preserved for the tie against Pep Guardiola’s troops. His experience could play a huge role in overturning the tie in Real Madrid’s favour, and given City’s defensive issues, Hazard will be licking his lips at the prospect of heating up his boots against a permeable defence.

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Injuries have already made it a difficult season for the 29-year old, and we as fans need to have his back, because he is the man who is going to help us progress in the Champions League, and it’s a matter of time before he takes every game by the scruff of its neck.