Real Madrid: 5 burning questions after 1-1 draw with Villarreal

Real Madrid, Eden Hazard (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Eden Hazard (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Eden Hazard
Real Madrid, Eden Hazard. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid drew Unai Emery’s Villarreal 1-1 on Saturday despite not having the full squad available. Here are five burning questions in the aftermath.

Villarreal came into La Liga’s Matchday 10 as the second-place team in the league, with Real Madrid a couple of spots behind them in fourth. And although Real outplayed Villarreal in the second-half, the lack of available options caught up to Zinedine Zidane’s men in the second half. Unai Emery made good tactical decisions, and Villarreal found the equalizer, coming close to winning the game at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

Real Madrid can be happy with aspects of their performances, including getting a point on the road against one of the league’s best sides. But there are still some lessons to learn from a tense second half.

Do Real Madrid need Eden Hazard to be contenders?

After Eden Hazard and Martin Odegaard left the pitch, Real Madrid seemed to fall apart. They didn’t have the same bite in the attack without Hazard’s dribbling and Odegaard’s incisive passing, and the result was a plodding, anemic offensive effort that gave Villarreal some great counter opportunities, including the one leading to Gerard Moreno’s penalty goal.

Hazard spent most of the match away from the goal, yet he still led all players on the team with five fouls drawn, per A couple of those fouls, including one from captain Mario Gaspar, should have been registered as tactical fouls for yellows. Villarreal were so scared of Hazard breaking lose and would often commit to intentionally fouling him early, and Hazard’s threat opened up opportunities for the midfielders.

Real Madrid – as we saw against Borussia Monchengladbach, Huesca, and Inter Milan – are a better team when Hazard is on the pitch. But when he’s not, they don’t even look like a team capable of winning the title this year with Atletico Madrid finally looking dangerous again.