Real Madrid: Eden Hazard is quietly getting back to his best
Coming into the 21/22 campaign, the expectations around Eden Hazard had been understandably lowered by Real Madrid fans.
His initial arrival had him garnered as a superstar, the man to lead the attack. However, the Belgian has endured a turbulent tenure at the club, although so far this season, he is quietly establishing himself within the side again.
This season, Hazard has found himself playing in something within a new role under Carlo Ancelotti.
As seen during his performance against Valencia, the Belgian international is drifting inside and playing as what looks to be a number 10.
Ahead of the clash against Valencia, there was certainly concern on whether he would be up to the task of the trip to Mestella.
José Bordalás’ side are highly energetic and physical, averaging 16.8 fouls per game, which is the highest of any side in the division.
The idea of tough tackles flying in on Hazard surely had plenty of Madrid fans breaking out in cold sweats, however, he showed throughout his 78 minutes that he was not only up to the task, but was also able to combat it.
Eden Hazard put in a great performance during Real Madrid’s win over Valencia
Take note of the particular moment where he oversaw the ball out for a goal-kick, under considerable pressure from Corriea on the opposite side.
Overall his body language was that of somebody with confidence within themselves, he was happy to get involved and have the ball.
During his appearance against Valencia, he created a team-high of six chances and completed a team-high of three dribbles. Whilst the headlines will certainly be about Benzema and Vinicius, there is a case to be made for Eden Hazard being Real’s most effective attacker through the first 45.
In fact, beyond the Valencia game, this season Hazard’s creative output has been relatively strong in the time he has seen on the pitch.
He is leading the team’s key passes stat with 2.4 per 90, having completed a total of 12 key passes, another team-high number.
Hazard is also having an effect with his shot-creating actions within the team too.
He comes second only to Benzema in total actions created with 17 so far. Upon deeper inspection, 14 of those actions have come from passing moves and just two from dribbles, highlighting a shift in his game that he is linking up the play as opposed to being the take-on machine he was at Chelsea.