Real Madrid returned to action and did so with a victory, defeating Eibar 3-1 on Sunday evening. Although Eden Hazard didn’t etch his name onto the scoresheet, the Belgian was impressive in attack and set up Sergio Ramos for the second of the goals.
The Belgian’s altruism in that moment pleased Zinedine Zidane. In his post-match press conference, the coach said: “We have players in attack who can always make the difference. I think Hazard could easily have scored himself there, but he wasn’t selfish and set up Ramos. That’s class.”
The coach also explained that Dani Carvajal hurt his ankle, that Sergio Ramos suffered a knock too and that Marcelo wasn’t feeling 100 percent during the second half, while Hazard’s substitution was needed because he was just returning from a long-term injury. Zidane even revealed what the Belgian told him during half time: “Hazard told me that he was glad he suffered a tough tackle early on as it helped him move forwards without fear.”
Speaking on the strange sensations that came with playing in front of no fans and at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano, Zidane insisted that his players simply must adapt. He didn’t think the surroundings played a role in the dropoff in the performance in the second half. “It’s a new type of football to before and we have to adapt,” he said. “We struggled a bit in the second half. I don’t know if it was a physical thing, but I don’t think so because we had prepared well. It was a bit of everything. It could be that we were 3-0 up and relaxed a little. There’s not one concrete thing. But, I’ll go away remembering the positives of the first half.”
Real Madrid face Valencia on Thursday and then Real Sociedad on Sunday, but Zidane isn’t complaining. “The schedule is what it is,” the Frenchman said. “That’s why we have a deep squad and we’re going to need everyone. What happened today with Carvajal, Ramos and Marcelo is normal. The good thing is we can make five substitutions, like we did today. Now we need to rest well and think about the next match.”