Real Madrid: Stop setting the standard so low for Eden Hazard

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

It was quite interesting seeing the outpouring of praise from some Real Madrid fans for Eden Hazard against Elche in LaLiga this weekend. On some level, it was nice to see, because Hazard has been through a lot of adversity and is a player we universally admire. We want him to do well. Even fans who believe Hazard should go this summer want to see him succeed, because, look, it’s the only way any other team could accept a transfer for him.

But these strong, positive feelings for Hazard that we have personally are beginning to cloud our judgment. In truth, Hazard was not good against Elche. He was not even average. Hazard was quite poor and continues to be a shell of the player we saw at Chelsea.

Yes, he had some bright moments. He made a good pass to Karim Benzema into the penalty box in transition. He created a great chance for Vinicius Junior after brilliantly keeping the ball in the box. And early in the match, he created a dangerous chance.

But…is that all? A few nice touches, a couple of chances created, and that’s all it takes for a starting winger at Real Madrid to receive plaudits as the best player on the pitch from some people? Has our standard for attacking play slipped so much? Or are these people so in love with Hazard that they wanted to slander Karim Benzema out of one side of their mouth while ignoring Vinicius Jr.’s actual Man of the Match-winning quality in order to boost Hazard? Is the Real Madrid fanbase falling victim to a kind of Player FC that makes “Ronaldo FC” (the creators of gems like, “Karim Benzema doesn’t respect Cristiano Ronaldo!”) look far, far more reasonable?

Eden Hazard has been a mediocre attacker for Real Madrid lately

Hazard lost the ball several times in the box. He offered no scoring threat despite occupying central areas for much of the match. His defending was non-existent. And by the time he left the pitch, Real Madrid were down 2-0. After he left, Los Blancos tied the match at 2-2.

Am I blaming Hazard for Real Madrid going down 2-0? No. Were Real better without Hazard on the pitch? I’m not so sure I can substantiate that claim.

However, I believe this with all my heart. A player cannot have a great game if they did not consistently control the ball, did not dominate a weaker team, contributed nothing to the defensive stability, offered no scoring threat, and lost possession with ease. A player cannot be anywhere near MOTM-level or even “good” if their team was losing 2-0 with them on the pitch and then scored two without them almost immediately. As an attacking player.

Inconsistent. Here-and-there. Mediocre at best. Those are the words that describe Hazard’s performances right now. He has his bright moments. But so does Marco Asensio. And I don’t see this kind of bloated praise or aggressive behavior from people defending Asensio. They know his strengths and weaknesses at this stage. Why can’t people do the same with Hazard?

A player with no goals and one assist in LaLiga cannot be praised highly

That is what Eden Hazard is right now for Real Madrid. By the standards we expect from a winger or wide forward – standards set by Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Angel Di Maria, Vinicius Jr., and so many other classy players over the years – Hazard is a mediocre player. He is not at the level of a starter at this club. How can someone with zero goals and one assist be a starting-caliber player for the biggest club in the world? Unless you want this club to drop from that status, you have to admit, the standard needs to be higher.

Yes, production goes beyond goals and assists. But when we are talking about forwards at Real Madrid, players who want to start at the highest level of attacking football, one goal contribution in seven starts and 14 total appearances in league play is atrocious. It’s not good enough. Key passes are nice, but they only go so far.

Madridistas need to support Hazard. He has gone through difficult times since joining his dream club. But at the same time, they need to be realistic. It does nobody any good to lie and praise a player when they are still well below both the standard the club expects and the standard they have set for themselves in the past. Hazard can still be an effective footballer, but, unless he turns things around drastically, he cannot be an effective starter for Real Madrid.

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As much as we may all love Hazard, Real cannot lower the bar for anyone. No matter how nice they are, regardless of what they did five years ago. This club is about the here and the now. And about results. Never forget that.