Real Madrid faces 1st test without Hazard
Real Madrid's Belgian forward Eden Hazard (C) controls the ball in the middle of his teammates Marcelo Vieira (R), Karim Benzema (3-R), among others, during a team's training session at club's sport complex in Valdebebas, Madrid, Spain, 16 August 2019. EPA/JUAN CARLOS HIDALGO
Real Madrid's French head coach, Zidedine Zidane, leads a team's training session at club's sport complex in Valdebebas, Madrid, Spain, 16 August 2019. EPA/JUAN CARLOS HIDALGO
Vigo/Madrid, Aug 16 (efe-epa).- Real Madrid will take on its first test of the season without Eden Hazard of Belgium who sustained a last-minute injury that will sideline him against Celta Vigo, both teams’ 2019/2020 La Liga opener.
The La Liga title seems to be at the top of the to-do list for a renewed Madrid, while Celta seeks to return to Europe.
To that end, Celta Vigo recovered some of the players who had grown up at the club, including Santi Mina, Denis Suarez and Pape Cheikh after last season’s failure.
Hazard’s injury appears to be the latest set back for Madrid at the beginning of a new era in which he is expected to correct last season’s mistakes.
Last season, Madrid’s lack of hunger and commitment brought its title hopes to an end as early as Christmas.
Coach Zinedine Zidane returned to take the helm on a promise of introducing changes, but the revolution has not materialized.
Hazard, who is tipped to inherit the responsibility that fell on Cristiano Ronaldo’s shoulder, was injured during the final training session ahead of the game.
Due to injury, he is expected to be sidelined for three matches, which forces Zidane to change his approach and start counting on Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez.
Madrid conceded many goals during the preseason, which prompted Zidane to introduce changes to his playing system.
During the two most recent matches, he lined up a five-man defense line, including three center defenders, a formation Zidane was not going to resort to, but after Hazard’s injury it has reemerged.
In such a scenario, Militao is expected to be the lone new face in the starting lineup, with Dani Carvajal as a right back in case the Spanish soccer federation lifts a ban imposed on him last season.
Zidane has several alternatives in the attacking line, including Isco Alarcón, Jovic, Vinicius and Lucas Vazquez, as well as Karim Benzema.
Zidane has won the league opener during the two seasons he started with Madrid and he will need a third victorious start to this season to dispel doubts as he waits for a last minute effort by the club for Paul Pogba.
Celta Vigo also is familiar with doubts as it lost its most recent two preseason matches against Tenerife and Lazio.
Celta paid for defensive errors and they lack balance in the wake of the Turkish midfielder Okay Yokuslu’s absence due to an injury he sustained while on international duty in late May.
He is not expected to be ready for Saturday’s game.
Potential starting lineups:
Celta de Vigo: Rubén Blanco; Kevin Vázquez, Aidoo, Araujo, Olaza; Brais Méndez, Lobotka, Pape Cheikh, Denis Suárez; Iago Aspas and 'Toro' Fernandez.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal u Odriozola, Varane, Sergio Ramos, Militao, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Isco and Benzema.
Referee: Estrada Fernandez
Stadium: Balaidos EFE-EPA