Sport

Danger to leave out Athletic conflict as Zidane protects Actual Madrid big name

Eden Hazard will sit out Real Madrid’s La Liga match with Athletic Bilbao as he is not fully fit, head coach Zinedine Zidane said on Saturday. 

The Belgium international sustained a heavy knock in the 1-0 win over Espanyol and missed the victory against Getafe on Thursday. 

Madrid could stretch their lead over Barcelona at the top of LaLiga to seven points if they win at Athletic on Sunday before the Catalans face Villarreal, but Zidane is not prepared to take any unnecessary risks with Hazard that could jeopardise his chances of finishing the season. 

“Eden’s having a hard time these days and we don’t want to risk anything, and he’s the first [to agree],” Zidane said. “Hopefully, it’s a small thing and we can see him again before the end of the league [season]. 

“He’s been away for three or four days and I hope he’ll get over it quickly. It’s day to day; we don’t know anything more than it’s a strong blow. There are those who know, the doctors and the medics… they are very competent people. It was a blow against Espanyol and it’s a matter of days.” 

Hazard’s first season at Madrid since his €100 million move from Chelsea has been blighted by injuries, with the 29-year-old having only started 13 league games in 2019-20. 

“The Hazard thing is the sort of thing we don’t want to happen, that’s the worst thing for me,” Zidane said. “It’s not just me, there’s a lot of people here to help the player. 

“For Eden, it’s his first year and he wants to help the team. And when he can’t do that, he’s not happy. 

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“I don’t think he’s afraid [of injuries]; what he wants is to be good enough to play. If he doesn’t look 100 per cent, it’s a problem for him and for everyone, because we love him to the max. 

“What I hope is that we’ll soon get out of it.” 

Los Blancos last won the title in 2016-17, during Zidane’s previous spell in charge, and the head coach is taking nothing for granted despite their advantage at the summit.

“The players know that it is a complicated, difficult, long competition, and that those who did it before show that they want to go for everything,” he added.

“There is no euphoria here because we have not won anything.

“There is work and commitment to do it well and try to win matches.”

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