Eden Hazard starts from scratch at Real Madrid. Without pain, without a titanium plate, with great enthusiasm to leave behind his first three seasons full of disappointments and with new personal challenges ahead. One is marked by the tightness of a calendar conditioned by a World Cup in November and the need to manage efforts in the squad. Carlo Ancelotti is aware that he will have to be careful with Karim Benzema, who will turn 35 in December and his usual load of minutes (3,919 ‘last year) adds the Qatari appointment that starts the season. In this context appears the Belgian attacker, who awaits a new role in 2022-23.
The white coaching staff, as AS has learned, He sees in Hazard a possibility to give Karim occasional breaks. Ancelotti wants to assess his growth options within the team, now that he is free of physical and mental burdens. In March, the osteosynthesis plate that had been inserted in the right fibula that tormented him so much was removed and in Cibeles, in full euphoria during the celebration of the Decimocuarta, he made a declaration of intentions: “It’s been three years with injuries, many things… But next time I’m going to give everything for you”. He is confident in bringing back the shine. “I’ve always said it, I’m going to be who I was again,” he said after his great game with Belgium against Poland during the recent break. Ancelotti picks up the glove.
One door closes and another opens
The left wing, Hazard’s natural, is now owned by Vinicius. The Brazilian earned it hard last year (22 goals, 16 assists and four forced penalties). The right, after his unleashed end of the course, bears the name of Rodrygo, while the ‘Asensio case’ is resolved and with Valverde’s invaluable contribution. This leaves a limited minute as Benzema’s companion, hence Ancelotti has in mind to use Eden in that positionas false 9. The substitute forward will be Borja Mayoral, but in a longer season than usual it will be necessary to watch out for any excess. Madrid is another without the French and controlling any overload will be essential to avoid setbacks. Thus, by the way, Hazard will be able to add a dimension to his game that will open more doors towards the search for continuity and regularity.
Playing on point is not something new for the man from La Louvière. He sat at the table of the best in the world, the one that opened the doors of the Bernabéu for him, thanks to his performance as a left winger. But up to 30 games (with 9 goals and 8 assists) he has played forward, according to data from Transfermarkt. For the white team, 15 minutes: 8 ‘against Alavés on matchday 35 of the year he arrived and another 7 ‘against Rayo, on matchday 13 last year. Nevertheless, at Chelsea he made relatively recurrent appearances, especially in his last two seasons in London. 20 games (of the 26 he played upstairs as blue) between 2017 and 2019, with a balance of 8 goals and 6 final passes in 1,749 minutes. That is, he participated in a goal every 124.9 minutes. Not bad for not being a specialist.
And it is that, his football skills tend to take him into the center of attack, where the action takes place, although almost his entire career has started from the left. His low center of gravity makes him a phenomenal ball protector, something that makes it easier for him to dribble short, unbalance and makes him a headache for the rival. Not taking into account homegrown players with fleeting appearances, he has been the white footballer who has suffered the most fouls per 90 minutes (3.63), ahead of Camavinga (2.28) and Vinicius (2.25). Without that recurring fear of contact that went hand in hand with the ankle plate, that edge needs to be enhanced. Chelsea’s irreverent Hazard is itching to return and Ancelotti opens the door for him, adding this new role to the equation.
In addition, there is another factor that invites optimism. In a prediction made by Olocipa company that applies artificial intelligence to football, ten months away at Real Madrid with Ancelotti as coach, forward Hazard would have a great impact on the team. His actions would generate 0.35 goals per game in favor of the white club. That is, a bit more than expected every 257 minutes. Benzema, in a similar prediction, would need 237 (0.38 per game) and vastly improves on Mariano and Jovic. The madridista game would be more fluid, according to the AI, since the greatest improvement of the team would come in the construction of the game. With Belgium he already showed green shoots in June, with vertical and daring football. We will see if adding one more positional register to gain continuity helps Hazard finally germinate with the Madridista elastic.