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Getting the best out of Hazard: Ancelotti's big challenge at Real Madrid

Carlo Ancelotti knows that a good part of his success during his second term at Real Madrid will come down to his ability to get the best out of Eden Hazard.

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Getting the best out of Hazard: Ancelotti's big challenge at Real Madrid
GABRIEL BOUYS AFP

“Hazard is a top player. He has had problems since the first year. His full potential has yet to be unleashed, but it will be because he’s very determined. When one is motivated ... this could be the right year for him to unleash his full potential.”

In his first appearance in front of the media since his confirmation as Real Madrid coach, Carlo Ancellotti was inevitably asked about one of the club’s biggest concerns over the last two seasons: the little -- if not zero -- influence Eden Hazard has had on the team since his arrival in 2019.

The Belgian has suffered a plague of injuries in his two seasons at Madrid, which has stopped him from reaching the dazzling heights he reached as a Chelsea player.

Ancelotti’s success at Real Madrid will rest heavily on Hazard

As always, Ancelotti tried to temper the matter, but the Italian coach knows that a good part of his success during his second term at Real Madrid will come down to the Belgian’s performance on the field.

"There is another judge, which is the field," was Ancelotti’s question to another question regarding veterans like Marcelo, Isco and Gareth Bale. And it will be the field that determines Hazard's future in this his third campaign in the white of Madrid. It is true that the injury caused by Thomas Meunier, his Belgium teammate, in a Champions League match between Madrid and PSG in November 2019 has tormented him ever since.

Eden Hazard is helped off the pitch after suffering an injury at the hands of PSG's Thomas Meunier.

After his disappointing first season, Hazard, who had arrived at Madrid overweight that summer, was eager to set things right in his second year. "I will be judged for my second campaign," he asserted in the summer of 2020.

But a year later, his second campaign ended with him having played just 886 minutes spread over 21 games (14 in the league, five in the Champions League, one in the Cup and one in the Spanish Super Cup), with a mere four goals scored and one assist.

Ancelotti’s coaching style may suit Hazard well

Ancelotti's method of work -- calm, leisurely, but not to be confused with soft -- could fit like a glove for the Belgian, whose performance at Euro 2020 will serve as a litmus test for next season. As one of the leaders in the Belgian team (one of the clear favourites for the tournament), Hazard will be instrumental to the Red Devils’ campaign for the title.

Parma, Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern ... in all the dressing rooms he has managed, Ancelotti has left his mark as a reflective figure capable of adapting to circumstances and listening to the players who he invites to question his methods. He seeks to reach the common good in the best possible way: by talking and being open to advice from the players themselves.

With Hazard, the veteran coach has an important challenge: get the best out of the Belgian for the benefit of Madrid and recover the forward who was beginning to shine in the autumn of 2019 before that fateful injury. Two years have passed since his arrival, but Madrid is still waiting to see the best version of the 30-year-old winger. Hopes are that with Ancelotti, that wait will finally be over.