Eden Hazard to Real Madrid has been a rumour for the ages. Although the rumour still hasn’t borne fruit, this just won’t go away. Especially now that Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer at the Santiago Bernabeu, the reports linking him to Real have been gathering pace faster than ever.
Every other day, there is at least one report of Hazard expressing his wish to play for Real ever since he was a little boy. Or how he wants to move to Real to get a legitimate shot at winning the Ballon D’or. With all that has been said and done, many believe that saga will finally come to reality next Summer. So, how exactly would Real line up with the mercurial Belgian, provided the rest of their squad remains the same?
🗣 Eden Hazard on his future:
“Real Madrid is the best club in the world. I don’t want to lie, it is my dream since I was a kid.
“In my head, sometimes I wake up in the morning and think I want to go. Sometimes I think I want to stay. It is a hard decision, it’s my future.” pic.twitter.com/mLyBwqP8v6
— bet365 (@bet365) October 8, 2018
1. The Traditional: 4-3-3
If Real retain their entire line up from this year for next season, Hazard would be a perfect fit in their 4-3-3 system. That would mean a back line consisting of Thibaut Courtois/Keylor Navas; the defensive quartet of Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Marcelo. In midfield, there will the ever-present trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro.
And finally, Hazard would play in the exact same role as Ronaldo with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema finishing the lineup. Hazard’s low centre of gravity, quick feet, ability to play with both feet makes him a seriously fierce competitor for any opponent.
Hazard’s aerial ability is a drawback for him given his height. But the Belgian has more than made up for it through his goals, assists and dribbles. With Real always known to have a liking for fast and speedy counterattacks, Hazard would be licking his lips. No disrespect to the La Liga defenders, but for someone who has been making lives of the Premier League defenders a living hell; Spain would most likely be a cakewalk for him. And this is one adventure Hazard would be licking his lips up for.
The 4-3-3 would allow Hazard to hug the left channel. With the veteran Marcelo just behind him, he would feel at home while going into the box as the Brazilian plays further up the pitch almost like a winger most of the times. The way Hazard has been scoring this season, a traditional 4-3-3 would be as perfect as it gets for him.
2. The Alternative: 4-3-1-2
One major tactical masterclass from Zinedine Zidane back when he was in charge of Real was this revolutionary formation. Real, always known for their wing play, decided to give ‘breaking down opponents from the middle’ a shot. Due to multiple injury problems for Bale, this was a formation used very frequently by Zidane.
In this, the defence and midfield remain as they are. Instead of Bale comes in Isco or Marco Asensio to play the ‘free role’ of a central attacking midfielder just behind Ronaldo and Benzema. This formation turned out to be a massive success for Real as it won them the last 2 Champions League trophies.
For Hazard, this may be a little tricky formation because he prefers wing play. But another upside to this is that he will get to spend more time in the box and won’t have to worry about creating chances as much as he would have to in, let’s say, a 4-3-3 formation.
Isco or Asensio would be the link between Kroos-Modric and Hazard-Bale or Hazard-Benzema. With Hazard’s predatory instincts, he can really go out and be the standout performer through this formation. Given his creativity, he might play the free role behind the duo of Bale and Benzema as well.
3. The wildcard: 4-2-3-1
One of the most commonly used formations in modern football has to be the 4-2-3-1. This is perfectly suited for the teams prone to counter attacking football such as Real. But, ever since Jose Mourinho left Los Blancos, they haven’t used it much. This can be a seriously great formation for Real and Hazard but it does come with some downsides.
The best part is Hazard can play as a left winger or forward with Isco or Asensio playing the free role. Bale would be the right winger, behind the out and out striker Benzema. As all three behind Benzema are comfortable playing as a winger or number 10, the constant interchanging of positions would spell bad news for opponents who wouldn’t be knowing who’ll pop up where for Real.
But the downside is that it would mean sacrificing Casemiro. Because Real wouldn’t be playing without either of Kroos or Modric. Or they all can play if Modric pushes up and plays like a #10 but that would mean sacrificing Isco and given Modric’s age, Real would be more attracted to giving Isco more and more game time as, within the club, he’s seen as Modric’s longtime successor.
But desperate times call for desperate measures. If Real go trophyless, whether Lopetegui stays on as the coach or not; this formation might very well be used frequently by the next manager, provided Hazard does end up donning the iconic White of Real Madrid.