It must have been his evening. Indeed, all the ingredients were there last night for Eden Hazard to have a great time. Established by Zinedine Zidane, the Belgian made his comeback at Stamford Bridge to face his former club, Chelsea, in the semi-final second leg of the UEFA Champions League. The perfect evening to make an impression. But the native of La Louvière was not really at the party. Still, he tried to bring on his left side, trying to make himself available and daring a few moves. But in the end, his performance did not really live up to the expectations placed on him. His behavior after the game was also singled out as he was seen laughing on the pitch with his former teammates after the final whistle and elimination. What the Merengues fans did not appreciate at all.
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Criticized by the Spanish and English press
For all of his work, the Spanish press is not kind this Thursday morning with the 30-year-old footballer. “Hazard, total disappointment”, title Marca. The player is “In the eye of the storm” explains the Madrid media which adds that “The Belgian continues to make no difference in his second season in Madrid, despite Zidane’s full support” and “His attitude does not help”. Marca finally clarified: “Against Chelsea, he was on tiptoe again in a big game and Madrid paid him off”. But it is not only on the other side of the Pyrenees that the former LOSC player, to which the FM editorial staff gave a score of 4, was destroyed.
In England, where he is well known, the critics are also harsh. The Guardian rated it 3 with the following comment: “Eden Hazard lacked confidence and form for his return to Stamford Bridge. One of his races almost brought a goal ”. Same story on the side of the Telegraph which explains : “He didn’t influence the game against his old team. He didn’t look quite in good shape, much to Chelsea’s relief ”. For its part, the Daily Mail indicated he was “Far from its best version”. Finally, The Independent was the harshest in writing that he was “Not fit, not sharp, not involved, not a threat”. The press was therefore unanimous about it, recognizing however its lack of rhythm.
Zidane supports him but …
Despite this, Zinedine Zidane has defended a player he has done everything he can to recruit from Madrid. “Eden needs to play, he must regain his confidence. This is only his second game as a starter. By playing on encounters, we will gradually recover the real Eden ”. But was it really doing him a favor to start him last night? Marca explains that Sergio Ramos like him did not necessarily deserve to start since they have been on the flank for a long time this season. Regarding the Red Devil, he has had a series of physical problems since his injury against PSG in C1 on November 26, 2019. Since then, he has accumulated 10 injuries, 389 days of absence and has missed 50 matches, specifies the Iberian publication. Long absent this 2020-21 season, he returned to competition on April 24 against Betis (14 minutes played) before moving against Chelsea (April 27, 25 minutes). Last Saturday, May 1, Zizou offered him his first start against Osasuna (70 minutes played). The first since January 30.
The plan of the Madrid staff was therefore to prepare him as well as possible before the return leg against the Blues last night (88 minutes played, replaced by Mariano Diaz). To align him on the left, Zidane therefore sacrificed Vinicius Jr, better at this position and tenured on the right where he was not at best. A strategy that has not paid off. Overall disappointing since his arrival in 2019, Eden Hazard had a great opportunity to show that he had to be trusted. He did not seize it while his coach tries by all means to help him. Behind the scenes, some leaders would also appreciate the self-sacrifice of ZZ in order to recover the Belgian and even dream of seeing a Hazard-Benzema-Mbappé trio in the future. Other rumors, they indicate that the credit of the player born in 91 is exhausted and that a sale will be privileged this summer, while his contract ends in June 2024. Eden Hazard to answer on the ground and finally show that ‘he can bring to Casa Blanca!