Real Madrid: Eden Hazard played poorly, but let’s not exaggerate

Real Madrid, Eden Hazard (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Eden Hazard (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images) /

The overreactions on Eden Hazard have come pouring in after Real Madrid’s loss to Athletic Club in the Spanish Supercup semifinals.

As one of the foremost Eden Hazard apologists you will see writing about Real Madrid, I need to get this out of the way and keep things as honest with you as possible. Hazard, to this point of his career with the team, has not come anywhere near his return on investment. It is not a stretch at all to say that Hazard has been a disappointment, even with the caveat that injuries have played the determining role in his lack of success.

But that caveat is so, so crucial to the context of our discussion. If Hazard were turning in 3/10 performances week after week or had never shown an ounce of talent, you could absolutely have a proper go at the man.

That’s not the case with Hazard, though. It’s all too easy for the children of the corn – excuse me – of Twitter dot com to conveniently wash away every positive thing the Belgian has done. I’m not just talking about the stuff at Chelsea. No, I’m referring to his great performances in the Fall and early summer of the 2019-2020 season, as well as his displays this season against Huesca, Inter Milan, and Borussia Monchengladbach (as an impact substitute).

Therein lies the problem, though. I can pretty much name each of Hazard’s great individual matches with Real Madrid. If he were playing up to his standard, there would be too many matches to mention.

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Now we come to his performance against Athletic Club. It was horrible. I am not going to mince words. He played poorly and did essentially nothing to elevate his team. It is in these games against a defense like Bilbao’s where you expect a 100 million euro superstar to play like one. Hazard did not even complete a single dribble, per, which is his best, goal-creating asset.

Despite my assessment of Hazard’s performance, I feel that some Madridistas have gone too far with their criticisms of Hazard. I even saw a tweet gain traction stating that they would prefer the current version of Gareth Bale over Hazard. Bale. Over Hazard. In 2021. C’mon.

There are still others who are disparaging Hazard as a flop, dragging his name through the mud without a semblance of awareness or respect. It is infuriating to see a player of Hazard’s caliber discussed as if he is a nobody, and these exaggerations made in bad-faith only serve to polarize opinion and make the fanbase seem ungrateful.

Eden Hazard needs time, good health, and confidence in his body

Hazard played poorly against Athletic Club. He has not been able to show his best for Real Madrid over an extended period of time, thus worrying fans he won’t live up to the price tag. Those are valid statements and concerns to share. But anointing Hazard as a flop already? Acting as if he has never been great or is suddenly a worse player than Bale or the unproven, inconsistent options occupying the wings in Madrid? That is a step too far, and it is a step I am not willing to take with any Madridista who truly believes these statements to be true.

Hazard is only two starts and four appearances back from another injury. Real Madrid are taking it slow with him, and based on the way he is playing, he is taking it slow, too. Would you rather have Hazard playing at a high level for the remainder of the second-half of the season, or would you rather have him run himself into the ground and get re-injured within his first few matches back again? We have to remember Hazard’s injury history and keep in mind that there may be a deliberate approach from Real to have him play “safer” until he’s truly built strength and confidence in his lower-body.

dark. Next. What's wrong at Real Madrid?

Until then, let’s ease up on Hazard. We cannot be dishonest and pretend he has been world-class, nor can we hide our displeasure with his performance against Athletic Club. But he was far from the only poor performer in the Spanish Supercup. More to the point, he has been Real’s best player on the pitch before, and if healthy, we should not suddenly change our tune and say that he can no longer reach that point again with good health.