Real Madrid must remain as cautious as possible with Eden Hazard

Real Madrid, Eden Hazard (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Eden Hazard (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid left winger Eden Hazard has not featured in a match since the Jan. 30 loss to Levante, as the Belgian suffered another muscular injury. There is much discussion regarding his return date, especially in light of a report from MARCA’s Juan Ignacio Garcia-Ochoa, which has seemingly been disputed, stating that Hazard has suffered a setback.

Whether or not he has actually suffered a setback is honestly immaterial at the end of the day, because the key date is the same. March 16. That is when Real Madrid will face Atalanta at home in the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16.

Last season, Hazard started in the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16 despite not being 100 percent. He was quite poor, and the team was eliminated from the competition due to uncharacteristic errors from Raphael Varane and a horrible attack “led” by a clearly hobbled Hazard.

How many times have we seen Hazard re-injured? He has been one of several casualties in a 2020-2021 season with a total of 42 injuries to Los Blancos. And his injury has loomed the largest when you consider that he has NEVER played the full 90 minutes in ANY competition thus far. We have never seen Hazard at 100 percent for 90 minutes at any point in the 2020-2021 campaign.

Real Madrid can beat Atalanta without Eden Hazard

So why would Real Madrid rush him? There is no need to cause any further damage to a player who has already suffered enough physically and, very likely, psychologically. This man was on top of the Premier League for years, and now he is struggling to get on the pitch through no fault of his own (please do not blame players for injuries, it’s classless) with some of his own fans now brandishing him a “flop”. As if he is not doing his best to return at full strength.

Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane usually do a good job of protecting injured players, and they must not fail to do so with Hazard. They have, in all honesty, already failed him before by pushing him too soon twice in 2019: early in the year in La Liga and then in August against Manchester City. And Hazard suffered for it, missing months thereafter due to aggravations.

If Real cannot get past Atalanta with a 1-0 lead in the tie and an away goal without Hazard, then they do not deserve to be in the Champions League quarterfinals anyway. I mean, let’s just say it. Real have won big matches without Hazard this season, and if they can’t beat one of the weakest teams in the knockout stages (no disrespect to Atalanta, but they are not on the level of a Bayern or a City), then that’s on Real and not Hazard.

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Don’t rush. There is too much at stake with Hazard’s contract and no real way to sell him. Real Madrid must continue to trust in him and help him along. He is talented and capable, and, more cynically, they are stuck with him. I would rather be stuck with a Hazard who is not injured than one who is stuck in a vicious cycle. Wait as long as it takes.