Eden Hazard has now played his first competitive minutes for Real Madrid. He came on in the second half against Levante, answering the question of whether or not he would feature. There were several others questions and answers from this match in the fourth round of the LaLiga season and they’re set out out below.
1. Will Varane make it safely across the finish line?
Real Madrid have a blockbuster fixture against PSG at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday and they’ll be without the suspended Sergio Ramos and Nacho. That means Éder Militão will be partnered by Raphaël Varane in Paris, but Varane is one of the more injury-prone players in European football and had 90 minutes to navigate against Levante on Saturday. Luckily, he made it through the whole match. So yes, he should be fit and healthy for Real Madrid’s midweek fixture.
2. Will Hazard feature?
On Thursday, there was maximum excitement about Eden Hazard making his debut against Levante. By late Friday night, though, it became clear that the Belgian probably wouldn’t start and that was confirmed when the line-ups were announced on Saturday. I spoke to a few fans outside the ground before the game and they generally understood the decision, given that the summer signing was just back from injury and given that PSG are next up. But they still wanted to see the new Galáctico. Everyone did. And, sure enough, Hazard came on in the 60th minute to make his Real Madrid debut and left a few glimpses of his supreme talent on the pitch.
3. Will Real Madrid wake up for this one?
This was the earliest kick-off of Real Madrid’s season so far. It was the earliest kick-off time for any LaLiga match this season so far, in fact. And that would have been a slight concern for fans at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu given last season’s record in home matches. In 2018/19, Los Blancos had four matches that started at 12:00 or 13:00 local time and they lost all four, 2-1 at home to today’s opponents Levante, 3-0 away at Eibar, 2-1 at home to Girona and 2-0 at home to Real Betis. But this time there was no sleepiness in the performance. From the off, Real Madrid dominated and they got the first-half goals they needed. Maybe it was Levante who needed to levante-ar – the Spanish for ‘get up’ – themselves..
1. How does Casemiro do it?
We saw yet another goal for Casemiro, who also scored for Brazil during the international break. The 27-year-old is finding the back of the net more than any of his midfield colleagues, having now scored 19 Real Madrid goals – more than Luka Modric’s 17 and Toni Kroos’ 14. He has a Frank Lampard-esque knack for arriving in the penalty area or the six-yard-box at just the right time, while he can also pull off long-range wondergoals that Steven Gerrard would have been proud of. And he does all of this while sitting in front of and monitoring one of football’s most attack-minded back lines. Bravo, Casemiro.
2. Will Real Madrid ever keep a clean sheet again?
It was a win, but once again Real Madrid conceded. They have not kept a clean sheet in a competitive game since April 25th when they drew 0-0 at Getafe. Since then, there have been eight matches and they’ve conceded in every one of them, letting in a total of 14 goals. There was one clean sheet in pre-season against RB Salzburg, but Real Madrid also conceded in six of their seven summer friendlies for a total of 18 goals conceded. With PSG and Sevilla to come, this run of no clean sheets could continue.
3. Will Real Madrid come to regret their new ‘fear clause’ policy?
Real Madrid have typically included what is known as the ‘cláusula del miedo’ in their loan contracts – the ‘fear clause’ in English. But this season they are allowing the players who are on loan around Spain to play against them. This meant that Borja Mayoral was able to face Real Madrid today, when he couldn’t last season. He scored a goal that didn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things since Real Madrid held on for the win, but it did show the capital city club the risks that come with this new policy. So will they come to regret it? And is it a risk worth taking anyway, because it’s the right thing to do? This might become even clearer when they have to come up against Sevilla and Reguilón next weekend.