Another chance for Hazard
MADRID, AUG 6: Real Madrid would love nothing more than for Eden Hazard to burst into life against Manchester City on Friday but their march to the La Liga title has shown they know very well how to win without him.
Faced with the challenge of overturning a 2-1 first-leg defeat in February, a lesser Madrid might have been looking to Hazard for inspiration as they try to shock Pep Guardiola's side and reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
"We know we have to go there and win," said Zinedine Zidane after the first leg.
Back in England, where he forged his reputation as one of the world's most lethal attackers, and up against arguably the favourites to win the tournament, the stage is set again for Hazard to rescue what has been a nightmare opening year in Spain.
Yet few are billing this as a duel between Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne, Belgium's two brightest talents, or tieing Madrid's progress to the mast of a decisive Hazard intervention, the like of which Madrid's fans are yet to witness this season.
"We know the team wins with Eden," said Zidane in February. "That's why we signed him, he's a great player."
But the team have won without him too. The reality is Madrid have learned not to miss the player they signed for 100 million euros last year and who said at his unveiling at the Santiago Bernabeu he wanted to become the club's next Galactico. -AFP