Zidane: ‘Good moment’ for Hazard to shine

Zinedine Zidane has said Real Madrid’s Champions League semifinal second leg with Chelsea is “a really good moment” for injury-prone forward Eden Hazard to show what he can do against his former team.

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The Belgium international, 30, has struggled in Madrid since leaving the Premier League club in July 2019, with a string of ankle and muscular injuries limiting his impact.

Hazard is finally fit after overcoming his latest issue, a calf muscle strain — having come off the bench against Real Betis in La Liga and then Chelsea in the first leg, and started against Osasuna on Saturday — and is in contention to feature from the start on Wednesday night. “It’s a really good moment for him,” coach Zidane said in a pre-match news conference.

“He’s come here prepared, that’s the good thing. We’ll need Eden, we know the player he is. He’ll help the team for sure.”

Hazard has scored just three times in La Liga and once in the Champions League — a penalty against Internazionale in the group stage last November — since signing for Madrid for a reported fee that could rise to €160 million.

“We know the player Eden can be,” teammate Toni Kroos said. “It’s a shame he hasn’t been able to show it in recent months with the injuries. He’s a bit better now physically which is really important for him, to play at his level.

“He’s a player for these matches, who can help us a lot.

“He’s played one game as a starter, that isn’t much, but for the opposition defence he can be a dangerous player, however many minutes he plays tomorrow.”

Real Madrid welcome back captain Sergio Ramos, left-back Ferland Mendy and midfielder Fede Valverde — all of whom missed the 1-1 first leg draw with Chelsea — for the second leg at Stamford Bridge. Defender Raphael Varane will be absent with an abductor muscle problem.

“Tomorrow you’ll see, I won’t tell you now what we’ll do with Sergio or any other player,” Zidane said. “Sergio is with us and that means he’s OK. That’s important, he’s our leader and our captain.”

Madrid are chasing a domestic and European double, with the team in a Champions League semifinal and two points off the top of La Liga with four games left to play.

“We’ve had complicated moments during the season, but you have to take your hat off to this team,” Zidane said. “It’s a team that has character and personality… We’re where we want to be, and it’s deserved.”