Real Madrid: 3 key individual battles to watch against Alaves

Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Eden Hazard
Real Madrid, Eden Hazard (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid LW Eden Hazard vs. Alaves RB Ximo Navarro

Ximo Navarro was one of the stars of the show for Deportivo Alaves in November, as he did an excellent job defensively against whoever Real Madrid threw at him. Eden Hazard started the match but never got to finish it due to injury, so he’ll have added motivation to come right at Navarro and the physical Alaves defense.

So far, Navarro’s been solid this season for Alaves, and he would love to have a repeat performance against Los Blancos in his own stadium. Navarro had a team-high four tackles with an interception and eight clearances, and those are numbers Zinedine Zidane and Co. certainly won’t scoff at.

Hazard is capable of so much more and really should be the matchwinner on Matchday 20. Madridistas are begging for the former Chelsea superstar to play like a top-five footballer in the world again, but he’s been struggling badly since his return from injury. Hazard showed promise against Osasuna despite the snow and the draw, but he was horrible against Athletic Club and did nothing off the bench in the embarrassing loss to Alcoyano.

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A bounce-back game is important for Hazard both for his confidence and for his standing with the team. He is the starter, but he is not untouchable. Zidane has options in Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio, so against a quality La Liga right back, Hazard must prove to everyone that he is still the best option at the left wing position.