Hazard in line to make Madrid return as Zidane hints at squad rotation

By Daniel Lewis 30 December 2020 5
Hazard in line to make Madrid return as Zidane hints at squad rotation

Eden Hazard will be eased back into action for Real Madrid in Wednesday's LaLiga trip to Elche, with boss Zinedine Zidane hinting he is ready to rotate his squad.

Belgium international Hazard has not featured for Madrid since injuring his thigh during the first half of the shock 2-1 home loss to Deportivo Alaves on November 28.

He was back in the squad for last Wednesday's 2-0 win over Granada, remaining an unused substitute for that game.

Zidane revealed after the victory - Madrid's sixth in a row in all competitions - that he was not willing to risk Hazard and will instead slowly work the forward back to full fitness.

After another week on the training ground, Hazard is now in contention to play a part against Elche at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero.

"He'll be there tomorrow and the plan is for him to play a little," Zidane said at Tuesday's pre-match news conference.

"The other day we decided something different. He has been with the team for several days now and we're looking to make the most of that."

Hazard has played 19 times for Madrid in LaLiga since arriving in a big-money move from Chelsea in June 2019, scoring only twice and assisting three more.

Even when fit and available, the 29-year-old has struggled to live up to expectations - his 21 chances created hardly an outstanding figure.

That equates to 1.5 key passes per 90 minutes, which is some way off Real Betis winger Joaquin (2.69) and Barcelona star Lionel Messi (2.68) as LaLiga's most frequent creators among those to have played at least 16 times since the start of 2019-20.

Hazard faces a challenge holding down a spot in the side, however, with Zidane keeping changes to a minimum in terms of his starting line-up during Madrid's impressive winning run.

But with games against Elche and Celta Vigo to come in the space of four days, Zidane suggested he is open to giving some of his fringe players an opportunity to impress.

"There are a lot of professionals here and there are very competent people paying attention to that [the risk of injury]," he said. "We will never take a risk if we know that a player can get hurt.

"The general risk is there, because there are a lot of games and training sessions. But there are very good people here."

Asked specifically about left-back Marcelo and attacking midfielder Isco, who have started a combined eight league games this term, Zidane said: "I'm counting on all my players.

"All the players are training well. That's good news for a coach. They're very professional and I think they're training well.

"I'm happy to see all the players focused. They'll all have chances to play. All these players want to play. It's difficult to leave players out, but this is part of the coach's job and it's the bad part."

Reports from Spain suggest Luka Modric is close to agreeing a one-year contract extension with Madrid and Zidane reiterated he is hopeful Lucas Vazquez and skipper Sergio Ramos will also sign fresh terms.

"The debate is there and you know how I feel about these things," he said.

"We want all these players to stay here because they are the best. I want these things fixed and quickly, of course."

Madrid, level on points with league leaders Atletico Madrid having played two games more, have won their past eight LaLiga games against next opponents Elche.

About Author

Daniel Lewis

Comment