Zidane hopeful injured Hazard does not need surgery

By Sports Desk December 10, 2019

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane remains hopeful Eden Hazard will not have to undergo surgery on his fractured ankle.

Hazard was forced off late on against Paris Saint-Germain towards the end of November after receiving a bang to his ankle.

Early concerns appeared to be put to rest when Madrid's medical team claimed the Belgian had only suffered bruising, but after needing crutches for longer than expected, he was sent for a second scan.

It was then that a small fracture was identified, essentially confirming he will not feature in El Clasico on December 18.

While there is no suggestion Hazard will be able to recover in time to face Barcelona, Zidane is at least hoping he will not require an operation.

"I don't believe so [that Hazard will need surgery]," Zidane told reporters on Tuesday.

"But I don't know exactly either. Yes, I can tell you that the injury he has is now controlled and I hope it [the time out] is less than expected.

"There was talk of a week or two, but now the important thing for him is to be patient, because it is not a good time, but I hope he will return quickly with us."

Madrid face Club Brugge in Belgium on Wednesday already knowing they will finish second in Champions League Group A.

As such, Zidane has taken the opportunity to rest some key players, with Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos not in the travelling party, but Casemiro is with the team, suggesting the coach does not feel anyone else can do the Brazilian's job.

"We know what Case [Casemiro] does, we've talked about this many times," Zidane said. "He's a player that plays many minutes.

"A coach always has to choose a call and think about the specific game. Then we will see the others.

"There are many players who have a lot of time [and travelled], like [Raphael] Varane, and you also have to consider the minutes they have with their selections."

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    Bruno Fernandes is reportedly on the verge of a transfer to Manchester United, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finally seems set to bolster his midfield.

    Portugal international Fernandes was heavily linked with both United and Tottenham in the close season, though stayed at Sporting, signing a new deal at the club in November.

    The new contract reportedly set the 25-year-old's buy out clause at €100million, though the fee rumoured to have been agreed between United and Sporting is closer to £50m (€58.6m).

    Reports on Friday suggested United did not want Fernandes to feature in the Lisbon derby against Benfica, but Sporting and the player wanted to give him the chance to bid farewell to the club's supporters in their biggest home match of the season.

    But, amid all of the speculation, just how did the playmaker fare on the pitch as Rafa Silva's late double handed the bragging rights to Benfica?

    5th minute – It was a rather anonymous start for Fernandes, who stalled a promising move from Sporting when he intercepted a heavy touch from team-mate Rafael Camacho, despite being stood in an offside position.

    13th minute – This will certainly have got United fans excited! From inside Sporting's half, the midfielder – who has recorded 13 assists in all competitions this season – played a superbly weighted pass over the top of Benfica's defence, straight into the path of Camacho. The winger got a shot off, but it flashed wide of the right-hand upright.

    38th minute – In what quickly became a scrappy encounter, Fernandes struggled to stamp his quality on proceedings again until seven minutes before half-time, when he picked out Yannick Bolasie with a pass. The Everton loanee was unable to beat Odisseas Vlachodimos, though.

    43rd minute – The build up to this match was all about Fernandes and it seems Benfica's players were in no mood to let it be the Bruno show. He was clattered into by Franco Cervi as the visitors started to give their rivals' captain some rough treatment.

    46th to 50th minute – Friday's encounter had to be paused for five minutes, as a section of Sporting fans threw smoke bombs onto the pitch and set fires in the stands. Fortunately, the stewards got them under control as quickly as possible.

    58th minute – Once the match had restarted, Benfica began targeting Fernandes once more, with Chiquinho receiving a booking for a late lunge which left Sporting's skipper needing treatment on his ankle.

    66th minute – Fernandes also proved his worth from set-pieces, with his cross from a corner finding Idrissa Doumbia, who could not direct his header on target.

    67th minute – With a point to prove, Fernandes almost picked out Luiz Phellype with an incredible diagonal from far out on the right flank. Unfortunately for Sporting, Vlachodimos got there first.

    80th minute – Fernandes can only watch on as Sporting's defence fail to clear their lines not once, but twice, with Benfica substitute Rafa on hand to put the Primeira Liga leaders ahead, though the goal only stood after a long check with VAR.

    97th minute – In the seventh minute of 10 added on due to the earlier disruption, Fernandes is forced deep in an attempt to get Sporting on the front foot, but he is quickly crowded out, with his only option a pass out wide to Marcos Acuna.

    99th minute – Game over, and is that goodbye Fernandes? Rafa steals the show – and the headlines – of this Lisbon derby, setting himself brilliantly with an expert first touch from Haris Seferovic's pass, before prodding a fantastic finish beyond Luis Maximiano. 

    Full-time – The cameras come up close to Fernandes, though he betrays little emotion as he shakes hands with the Benfica players, before heading for the tunnel with his captain's armband unfastened.

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    Pep Guardiola feels it is pointless rooting for Manchester United at Anfield this weekend given Liverpool's huge advantage over Manchester City.

    Jurgen Klopp's unbeaten Reds host United - the only side to take points off them in the Premier League this season - on Sunday in a blockbuster encounter that is sure to be of interest to fans across the world.

    Those of a City persuasion are in the unenviable position of knowing a victory for their cross-city rivals would be beneficial to Guardiola's side.

    Yet, given the Reds would still be 11 points clear with a game in hand if they lose and City beat Crystal Palace at home on Saturday, Guardiola sees little point in even paying attention to how Liverpool are faring.

    Asked whether he would be supporting United on Sunday, Guardiola replied: "Being so far away from [Liverpool], I think it's not interesting to look a little bit [at] what Liverpool does.

    "It's better to focus on what we can improve for the rest of this season in all competitions, in the Premier League as well, and prepare the next one."

    While they have not been able to gain on Liverpool given the relentless pace of Klopp's men, City have enjoyed an upturn in recent weeks, winning nine of their previous 10 games in all competitions.

    Guardiola, who is under contract at the Etihad Stadium until 2021, has already stated he would like to stay on next season and the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss stressed the only way he could depart is if the club sack him.

    "Unless they sack me, I'm going to stay another year here," he added.

    "I don't have to announce, I have a contract. I'm going to stay, 100 per cent.

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    "Even if it was going bad or not qualifying for the Champions League, I'm not going to give up.

    "The managers have good moments and bad moments, not all the managers win all the time. In the bad times we can say we are bad because we've lost some games so what can we do to get better? So, it's simple."

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    Chelsea were unable to sign any players during the off-season, with the club serving a transfer ban.

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    The transfer ban was initially due to run until the end of the season but was lifted ahead of the January window.

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    "The players you mentioned there were top players. I think the idea of January being a time to buy players, it's difficult for everybody – for players coming in, especially if they're coming from a different league, for the club and for the settlement of the group.

    "I think that's why we have to think ultra-carefully, and I do care and consider the club and where we're going. I don't want to make some knee-jerk reaction to say, 'Here's my first big signing'. 

    "No, I want to do the right thing for the club. If I do it, I'll try and consider all things. I will always be in communication with the club."

    Lampard – who also confirmed Ross Barkley will not be leaving Chelsea this month – did acknowledge the Blues shall make additions if all parts of the deal fit, however.

    "Hopefully it's the best thing for us. Whether that's more of a short-term option or a long-term option, we'll also have to consider," Lampard added.

    "I think I should be [prepared for no signings], because that's where we're at, at the moment. If it feels right for us, then we'll do it."

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