The show should have gone on, even in San Siro. The players honored Diego Maradona before the decisive kick-off in the UEFA Champions League Inter Milan – Real Madrid. Zinedine Zidane’s team requested the result to preserve a chance to exit the group stage of the competition. The French, who described the match as a final, needed his team to focus and speed up, to play a match that most of them failed to deliver this season.
He did not disappoint, with Eden Hazard in a lead role. The Belgian converted from a penalty kick in the seventh minute, and quietly hit the ball bypassing Samir Handanovic to give his team an advantage. Hazard played a great first half hour before fading, but his little post-break contribution was probably less important. He gave Real Madrid a platform to dominate and win the match. And that’s exactly what the Spanish champion did with a great tactical and technical show.
It’s also exactly what Zidane wanted from his € 100m player: The three points lifted Real Madrid in Group E after a disastrous start in their first two matches against Shakthar Donetsk and Inter Milan, but Hazard lit a match that signaled his ability to pay. Madrid to greater heights at least. Both the player and the club have suffered an oddly curvy season. Real Madrid often seemed tired, slow and out of touch, while Hazard struggled with injuries, the COVID-19 virus and level of performance.
Real Madrid wasted the Belgian’s perseverance, acceleration and creativity on the right in Zidane’s 4-3-3 plan. Sometimes Vincius Junior was a good stand-up, but the Brazilian remains a diamond that needs polishing. Hazard is still in a completely different category.
The Belgian has had a tough first season in his new home, where he once again experiences how elite sports operate in mysterious ways and how part of their fascination is the eternal confrontation of struggle and failure. It might be hard to consider Hazard’s 2019/20 season in Madrid a failure, but there was at least a failure in the performance of duty on the Belgian side: he arrived in Spain overweight and did not seem to be really recovering from an ankle injury he suffered against Paris San. . – Elected after the reckless interference of his compatriot Thomas Monier. However, when he played, he never really excited.
The first months of his new campaign were cut short again. Slowly but surely, Hazard is running out of excuses. Its window to assert itself in the Spanish capital is narrowing, but it has not closed yet. Time is against him, but there have been encouraging signs: his headscarf against Huesca and Inter Milan. In Italy, he completed 78 minutes before Zidane replaced him with Vinicius Junior. Number seven should be fit enough to play 90 minutes and have a greater impact on the Madrid game.
Lately, Zidane has tended to regard most of Madrid’s matches as final. This is a big exaggeration, but it may apply to Hazard’s individual case. In his second season at Real Madrid, he can cement his reputation as a little wizard, who first set off with graceful touches and gossip dribbles across Stamford Bridge to lead Chelsea to two domestic titles, by conquering the Alfredo Di Stéfano stadium with the same virtues. The alternative is less palatable: the danger will slowly fade out of sight. For the Belgian, December will be a long final, as they kick off their Saturday home game against Deportivo Alaves.
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