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Real Madrid: Hazard is the 21st-century Garrincha

Update:

It's been pretty much all good news at Real Madrid since the turn of the year: Los Blancos have lifted the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia and, after wins over sides including direct rivals Sevilla and Atlético Madrid, have moved clear at the top of LaLiga. All that was left was Eden Hazard's return to action.

When Real Madrid are struggling to make the breakthrough, Hazard's a player who can unpick the lock

He's a match-winner, pure and simple, and succumbed to injury just when he was starting to show the kind of form that had attracted 50,000 fans to the Bernabéu on the day of his unveiling.

In the games where Madrid are struggling to find a way through - last month's visit to Real Valladolid is a prime recent example - Hazard is a player who can unpick the lock with a piece of individual magic. He's the Garrincha of the 21st century. With the ball glued to his boot, he weaves through the defenders like a medal-winning skiier slaloming between the gates.

More must be demanded of Real Madrid's summer signing - but I believe he'll repay that 100m-euro fee

With Hazard on the field, Zidane knows he'll have an attack blessed with added bite and flair. With ball at feet, his sole aim is to take on the defence, seek out the cracks, and either conjure up an assist or beat the 'keeper himself. Since he's been in Spain, though, we haven't seen him manage that often enough.

In nearly 1,000 minutes of Madrid action, he's scored just the one goal, his chip against Granada in October. It was a lovely strike, but more must be expected of him. He's looking stronger and leaner, and this week will take his first steps towards justifying his price tag once and for all.

I'm confident that 100-million-euro outlay will be well worth it.

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