Real Madrid: Evaluating Eden Hazard’s first four matches of 2020-21

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

Real Madrid left winger Eden Hazard didn’t get to play in La Liga until Oct. 31 due to injuries. How have his first few games of 2020-2021 been?

After returning from injury, Eden Hazard played a few games for Real Madrid before missing the loss to Valencia after testing positive for COVID-19. Hazard then played most of the game against Villarreal upon his return from the November international break. So far, he has appeared in four matches with three starts across both the Champions League and La Liga.

Hazard has one goal in his four appearances, which was a brilliant strike from long range against Huesca in the 4-1 win. The match against Huesca was Hazard’s first start of the season, as it occurred a few days after his 2020-2021 season debut against Borussia Monchengladbach.

He was vital in both matches. After Hazard entered the game at Gladbach, Real Madrid came back from a 2-0 deficit to get a much-needed point in their Champions League group. As for the match against Huesca, Real were struggling before Hazard’s goal. Afterward, they looked much better attacking-wise, winning the game 4-1. Karim Benzema would score his first brace of the season with Hazard in the starting XI.

As a whole, Hazard is playing well for Real Madrid since his return, but he hasn’t been brilliant. The Belgian, per, is averaging 1.8 dribbles per game and 2.3 fouls drawn per game in all competitions. But he has only one shot per game and only 0.3 key passes per game. Hazard is working hard on the ball for his team and causing problems for defenders, but he isn’t creating clear-cut chances and his lone goal was the result of individual brilliance from range.

Zinedine Zidane needs to do a better job of putting Hazard closer to the center of the penalty box in areas where he can have more direct influence on the game. Hazard is at his best when he is drifting inside from the left, fluidly exchanging with the striker Benzema. He also seems to play well with Rodrygo Goes on the right, as he can help work with Benzema to get the ball to Rodrygo in space with all the attention Hazard commands from defenders on the left side.

Hazard’s impact on Real Madrid is undeniable. When he wasn’t on the pitch against Villarreal, Los Blancos suffered. Even though Hazard didn’t have any key passes or goal-scoring opportunities, he helped his team greatly at the Estadio de la Ceramica by drawing fouls and causing Villarreal issues in the middle of the park when starting attacks. Villarreal were scared of him, but his teammates could not take advantage of the focus on stopping Hazard.

For Zidane, the challenge will be getting the most out of Hazard’s special talents. And for Hazard, the challenge will be scoring goals and providing assists. Whether fair or not, that’s how Hazard will be evaluated as a 100m million euro superstar and the biggest acquisition the club has made in the last few transfer windows.

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In his first 209 minutes of the 2020-2021 season, Hazard has played well. But Real Madrid will need more from him in the coming months if they are to truly compete in the Champions League and secure a 35th La Liga title.