This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Not many will prosper from this upcoming international break more than Real Madrid and Barcelona. Both the giants of La Liga have been plagued with various injuries at the start of the new campaign and both will most likely, for precisely that reason, have welcomed the break with open arms.
Another similarity between the two is also in the personnel who have been sidelined. Barcelona are still waiting for the full return of Lionel Messi and Real Madrid are eager to see their new Galactico, Eden Hazard, in action. Both teams need their superstar attackers this weekend.
Los Blancos have a tricky match ahead as they will face Levante, and Zinedine Zidane will have to ease his Belgian superstar back into action. This might pose him a slight headache as the Frenchman will definitely be eager to get some good results going, considering that they have racked up only one win in three games so far, but he also has to be careful not to play his cards too carelessly.
Integrating Hazard into the squad seems rather easy at first. Of course he’s going to start. After all, being Real Madrid’s second-highest transfer ever means that he was brought in to strengthen the starting 11 and give the team a much-needed boost, not be a squad player.
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However, Zidane has admitted that he cannot simply throw the Belgian in after his time out injured, saying: “Regarding Hazard, we have to go little by little. He has been injured for three weeks. He was back training this week. We have to go carefully with him.”
But the boss also said he is “ready”, and we expect the newest Galactico to start on the left, with Karim Benzema up front and Gareth Bale on the opposite side.
On paper and in theory, this does seem like the best course of action and a formation that should get the best of their rather star-studded attacking trident.
But the coach’s responsibility doesn’t really end there. Hazard bagged a lot of goals for Chelsea with a total of 110, along with 92 assists in 352 games. This means that he’s very prolific in front of goal but he often slots into that creator role as well.
Of course, Real Madrid had a world-class goal-scorer, rather than a mixture of both, occupy that position on the left for many years in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo, so this will be a big change. Hazard has some huge shoes to fill, and maybe he’s not even meant to become the “next Ronaldo” at all. But that part is for Zidane to decide.
One way or the other, we’ll most likely find out once he steps out on the pitch against Levante.
One thing is certain – the former Chelsea man will be heavily relied upon to solve the side’s over-reliance on certain methods, methods that haven’t yielded enough goals as of late.
But it is also important that no matter what happens once he’s out there and doing his thing, he is given time to integrate properly and gel with the rest of the team. And that’s another thing Zidane may want to keep an eye on. He must have patience.
By the looks of things, some fun times await the Frenchman and his Galacticos. How will they react? We’ll get our answers on Saturday at the Santiago Bernabeu.