Real Madrid: Hazard pushing for a place in Zidane's XI for Eibar
The Belgian has returned in excellent shape after overcoming his injury issues and could hand Zidane a new look front line with Marco Asensio on Sunday.
Real Madrid forward Eden Hazard could be in line not just for a place in the squad against Eibar when LaLiga resumes this coming weekend but is in good enough shape to push for a place in Zinedine Zidane’s starting XI, AS understands. Madrid host Eibar in the unusual confines of the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano, Real Madrid Castilla’s home ground, on Sunday evening as LaLiga resumes after the coronavirus-enforced hiatus and Hazard has been putting in the hard yards in training to prove that he is ready to start for Madrid for the first time in almost four months.
One goal and five assists is not exactly the return Real Madrid would have expected on an investment of €100m on the Belgium international when he was signed from Chelsea last summer but Hazard’s first season at the Bernabéu has been plagued by injury. The 29-year-old arrived in Madrid nursing a hamstring injury and later fractured a bone in his foot after overcoming an ankle problem. The last game Hazard played was the 1-0 defeat against Levante on 22 February, since when he has undergone surgery in the United States before returning to Valdebebas with an eye on the end of the campaign. Hazard said earlier in the season he should be judged on his second year in Madrid but he has been handed a chance to aid Madrid in their push for domestic and European glory.
With the league on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hazard has had plenty of time to get back to full fitness and as well as running freely he has been doing contact work with the ball at home before returning to training with his teammates after undergoing a Covid-19 test on 6 May. The Belgian’s physical state has surprised club medical staff and he has looked sharp enough in training to suggest that Zidane may be inclined to start the forward against Eibar.
Hazard, Asensio giving Zidane food for thought
Hazard had originally targeted the Euros for his return to action but the postponement of the continental tournament and the decision to play out LaLiga has benefited Zidane, whose side were not scoring freely before the season was put on hold, picking up just four points from their final four league games.
However, history suggests Zidane will err on the side of caution, particularly given the injury suffered by Nacho in training that has added to several others across the league as players adapt to what amounts to a mini pre-season. After his return from a hamstring issue in September, Zidane handed Hazard half an hour against PSG in the Champions League and the same amount of time against Levante in his league debut four days earlier.
Zidane will be eager to have Hazard up to speed as quickly as possible though, along with the returning Marco Asensio, who has not played all season to date. After the visit of Eibar Real Madrid host Valencia and then travel to Real Sociedad in two games that could prove key to their chances of catching leaders Barcelona in the race for the title. The reigning champions are two points clear as it stands with Madrid already insisting that the hastily arranged fixture list favours their arch-rivals.
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