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Levante vs Real Madrid: Eden Hazard returns to scene of injury hell

Having given an encouraging display in the win at Alavés, Eden Hazard now returns to the scene of his toughest injury as a Real Madrid player.

Hazard, durante el Levante-Real Madrid de 2020.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Eden Hazard won’t have happy memories of his last visit to Levante, on 22 February 2020: Real Madrid lost 1-0 and he limped off midway through the second half, in evident pain after injuring his right ankle in the process of attempting a backheel. Hazard was forced to undergo surgery, adding to the gloom enveloping a Madrid career that has so far remained an unsuccessful one. This weekend, he returns to the scene of the crime hoping for a brighter future at Madrid, encouraged by the promising signs he offered up in Los Blancos’ 4-1 opening-weekend win at Alavés, a game that saw the 30-year-old set up Karim Benzema for the first goal. With a backheel.

Injury at Levante surely Hazard's most painful setback as a Real Madrid player

Hazard’s injury at the Ciutat de València wasn’t the first setback he had suffered in that 2019/20 season, his first at Real Madrid following his 100-million-euro move from Chelsea. But it was without doubt the most painful, given how cruel and unexpected it was. Months earlier, on 26 November 2019, his compatriot Thomas Meunier had hit him with a robust tackle in a Champions League clash between Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, catching a right ankle that had already required an operation in the forward’s time at Stamford Bridge and had been fitted with a titanium plate.

The collision left Hazard with a fractured fibula that could have led to surgery, but Madrid opted for a more conservative course of treatment. Two and a half months later, he returned to action in a home LaLiga match against Celta Vigo, and looked in surprisingly good nick. But in the next league game away at Levante, his fibula gave way again. This time, Madrid agreed to an operation, under pressure from the Belgian FA, who wanted the player fit for the European Championship.

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Ankle problems "out of my head", Hazard says

His absence coincided with the suspension of football following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and almost four months later, he made his comeback with the 2019/20 season still ongoing. However, the injuries didn’t stop there: since then, he has been forced to sit out games for 13 different reasons. On Sunday, 547 days after that ill-fated backheel, Hazard returns to the Ciutat de València with the good vibes that come from feeling yourself once more. He certainly sees it that way: “My ankle is out of my head. We’re going to give it everything.”