Real Madrid, Zidane, LaLiga and the Champions League

Yesterday Zidane said he was satisfied with how his players had all returned (although if not, he wasn’t going to say) and he set himself the goal of 'winning something' stating that ”it is in our DNA". Ahead of him lie the months of June and July to catch Barça in LaLiga and beyond that, in August, a trip to Manchester City with an uncomfortable 1-2 first-leg result in tow. Real Madrid are swimming against the tide in both. In the league they have one away fixture fewer than Barça, but among those that remain are visits to San Mamés and Anoeta. Barça have to go to Sevilla and will welcome Atlético to Camp Nou. There is not much of a notable difference in the schedules. For me the decisive factor is Messi, who will have the last word if he comes back all guns blazing.

Zidane UCL focus

Zidane is scheduling the work of his squad with a view to the game against City, who themselves have not yet returned for duty, after only going through tests on Monday. The coronavirus arrived later in England than in Spain, but as Boris Johnson danced around the growing pandemic when decisive action was required, it hit him hard. I wouldn't be surprised if Zidane made this competition his priority. The Champions League has been a beacon for Madrid ever since the days of the European Cup and this is where Zidane, who wrote his own name into its legend with that volley in Glasgow, has since shone with his titles as manager.

Hazard warning

Hazard and Asenio returns

In addition, having until August to be ready will allow Hazard more time to get back to his best. We already saw at the beginning of the season that he is not one of those players who gets himself into shape quickly. He had only just managed to reach that point when Meunier's kick ruled him out again. This postponement has turned out well for him meaning he has been able to rejoin the team for the final stretch of the season. Along with him, Asensio is another to have had bonus time to recover, although this comes from something more serious and after longer out, so could take more time. In any case, they are two more weapons for August, more so than for June, and therefore adds to the renewed excitement and belief for the Champions League.