Real Madrid: On Hazard, Cristiano Ronaldo... and Cassano

It’s been a strange old start to the LaLiga campaign, with some clubs already underway and others still in pre-season - something of a puny one, but a pre-season all the same. That’s the case of last term’s top four. Atlético Madrid would have played Cádiz in the Trofeo Carranza today, had Diego Simeone not tested positive for the coronavirus, leading to the game’s cancellation. Sevilla took on Levante yesterday and meet Athletic on Friday. Barcelona have faced Nàstic - in a game that featured the now-staying Lionel Messi - and await Girona tonight and Elche next week, the latter a clash that will serve as the Trofeo Gamper. Real Madrid played yesterday against Getafe, without television cameras, a fact which envelops the match in a rather unnecessary cloak of mystery.

Madrid fans miss Getafe thumping as Hazard stays in gym

While a regional channel is showing Barça’s warm-ups and Sevilla-Levante was on the club’s in-house station, Madrid’s 6-0 thrashing of Getafe wasn’t on RMTV or local television. Zinedine Zidane didn’t want it to be, the club says, because he saw it as a training session. The fans were denied the pleasure of watching their side score six, but what they can't have missed is the state Eden Hazard is in. That's surely their biggest concern right now. Called up for Belgium duty by Roberto Martínez, he was quietly sidelined as soon as the coach got a look at him. Back at Madrid, Zidane consigned him to the gym, which is where he remains. There's been talk about the plate in his ankle… but that’s not something we can see. His weight is.

Hazard's in danger of being another Cassano...

Hazard had already turned up overweight last term, which is a very bad sign for a player who has just joined Real Madrid. From the off, I got the sinking feeling that he saw his move to the Bernabéu as the crowning glory of his career, rather than the beginning of his biggest challenge. Little by little, he began to shed the pounds and look like his old self… only to get injured. His recovery then took so long that not even the hiatus caused by the pandemic allowed him to make his mark on the season run-in. A player who oozes class, Hazard was bought to help fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo, but I’m starting to fear he may end up being more of an Antonio Cassano. Let’s see if Zidane can finally get him firing on all cylinders…