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Zidane: “Hazard is a professional and is very close to a return”

The coach also discussed Real Valladolid, his tactics and the minutes given to Vinícius and Rodrygo.

Real Madrid v Deportivo Alaves - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Real Madrid are in midweek action this week, with a Wednesday night match at home to Real Valladolid. Ahead of this game, Zinedine Zidane had a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Discussing this round’s rival, he said: “They’re a team that are dangerous both away from home and at home. We’ll have to play well against them. It’s not easy to play every three days, but this is what we like. We like to train less and to play. The players are motivated.”

Eden Hazard hasn’t featured yet in the team’s first two matches of the season and the coach was asked if the forward is ready to come back. Zidane said: “I think he’s very close to a return. He is prepared and training well with the team. The issue is that he hasn’t been able to train much until now, but now he is back training regularly. So, we’ll see what happens. What he wants is to play. He had a big problem that caused him issues for a long time, but now it seems like he is fine. The season is very long and he is a professional. What he wants is to be with his teammates and to play.”

If Hazard does return for this game then it’ll be interesting to see how he fits into the team, since Zidane has used two different systems already across the first two matches. However, the coach explained in the press conference that the formation is not the most important and that there is more fluidity than there may seem on paper. On that, he said: “For me, the most important thing is the balance. We had two up front the other day, but we can play with one on the outside. When you have three up front, for example, the winger doesn’t have to stay on the wing. We can move around. We have many options.”

Zidane was even asked about the minutes Ansu Fati and João Félix are getting at Barcelona and Atlético Madrid and why Vinícius and Rodrygo aren’t playing as much. “These kinds of questions make me laugh,” he started. “This is Real Madrid and some players will play more and others less. That’s the reality. Those two are barely 20 years old. At that age, sometimes you’ll play and sometimes you won’t.

Finally, the criticism of VAR in the aftermath of Real Madrid’s win at Real Betis was also brought up and Zidane was asked if he has been surprised by this. He replied: “It is criticism of correct calls. So yes, the criticism does surprise me. People can think what they want, but we’re just focussed on what we have to do. I’m not going to worry about refereeing and sanctions as I’ve got enough to worry about with my own job.”

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