Javier Hernandez has long been insisting that if he’d been playing more games for Real Madrid then he’d be scoring more goals for the club. And true to his word since gaining back-to-back starts for Los Blancos, Chicharito hasn’t let his manager down.
His change of fortunes began when he was started against Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League quarter final match. The first-leg had surprisingly ended 0-0, despite both teams fielding highly capable forwards, though the city rivals had already played each other a ridiculous six times this season so perhaps they were just bored of the sight of each other.
Anyway, with neither side able to break the deadlock, everything was there to play for when the fixture came to the Bernabeu. And although Real Madrid will always be considered a stronger team than their much poorer neighbours, on the night of the return fixture they were missing key attacking players Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale. So up stepped Hernandez for his big moment, and he didn’t fail to impress.
Both teams had good chances, but with full time approaching and no goals yet again, it looked certain to go into extra time. Then a clever pass across the box from Cristiano Ronaldo to Hernandez put Real 1-0 up and ultimately into the semi finals.
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You could see from the Mexican’s reaction that he couldn’t quite believe his luck. Not only had he scored for his adopted club but his goal had allowed them to continue their journey towards an eleventh Champions League trophy.
Since that magical night Hernandez has found himself back in favour with manager Carlo Ancelotti. He was rewarded with a start in their next Liga match against Celta Vigo where he scored twice, a result which may well put him in contention for their remaining league fixtures and upcoming European game away to Italy’s Juventus.
Hernandez has been on loan with the Spanish capital club for the past year and his long term future will be decided shortly. If Real choose not to sign him on a permanent deal then he’ll return to parent club Manchester United, though manager Louis van Gaal has made it clear that despite his recent good form there is no future for the striker at the club.
Fortunately he has impressed enough lately to be able to receive a few good offers from top clubs if Real Madrid overlook him.
Throughout what has surely been a frustrating season waiting for consistent playing time, Hernandez has stayed positive and it is perhaps this positivity and patience that has meant he was able to play without fear and take his opportunities when they arrived. Many players who are in the middle of a goal drought or are trying to prove themselves allow the stress to affect their performances, and it often makes the situation worse.
Real Madrid could use having a player like Javier Hernandez as another attacking option next season, but would a player in the peak of his career agree to spending more time on the Old Trafford bench than on the pitch?
Whether he’s a Real Madrid player next season or not, Hernandez has shown that he is still a formidable and relevant striker and should be proud of his year as a Galactico.
Not bad for a so-called Manchester United reject.