Coronavirus: Hazard trains as Madrid crank up preparations for LaLiga return

By Sports Desk May 11, 2020

Eden Hazard was pictured training with Real Madrid as Los Blancos cranked up preparations for a potential LaLiga resumption next month.

It has been an injury-hit debut campaign for Hazard, who joined from Chelsea in a big-money move prior to the 2019-20 season.

The Belgium forward fractured his right ankle during a 1-0 defeat at Levante in February, having recovered from a similar injury sustained in a Champions League clash against Paris Saint-Germain in November.

But Hazard was back in training on Monday, with the Spanish top flight having been halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale and Marcelo were also shown on Madrid's Twitter account, with several others included in a gallery on the club's official website.

A Madrid statement read: "Two months later, the squad has returned to the training pitches at Real Madrid City. 

"The players have been working out since 10am under the direction of Zinedine Zidane and the strict health rules of the LFP protocol for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Divided into two shifts and on various pitches, the Real Madrid players perform their first individual exercises with and without the ball."

Barcelona returned to training on Friday, with fellow LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid back a day later.

Atletico's Brazilian left-back Renan Lodi was absent amid reports he had tested positive for coronavirus, with the club alluding to the situation with a message on Twitter that read: "Renan Lodi salutes you from home. See you soon on the pitch!" 

LaLiga has no definitive return date as yet, but president Javier Tebas said on Sunday he is targeting a resumption from June 12 and matches taking place every day for 35 days.

Barca led Madrid by two points after 27 rounds prior to LaLiga's suspension.

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    Zinedine Zidane insisted there was no shame in Real Madrid's shock loss to third-tier side Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey.

    Madrid were stunned by the Segunda Division B outfit in the last 32 as Juanan scored a 115th-minute winner on Wednesday.

    Jose Solbes had earlier cancelled out Eder Militao's opener and Alcoyano found a winner despite Ramon Lopez's red card in extra time.

    But Madrid head coach Zidane dismissed suggestions the defeat was shameful for the LaLiga champions.

    "Those are your words. Those words, they do not belong to me," he told a news conference.

    "This is football, difficult things because it's true that we play against a Segunda B team and we need to win the match normally, but at the end it hasn't been like that and this does not mean that this is a shame. It can happen and it happens sometimes in a footballer's career and responsibility must be assumed. I completely do.

    "We will keep working … another painful day because we don't like to lose and overall for the players, because they just want to win. We won't get crazy now, let's think and keep working."

    Excluding the defeat to Cadiz in 2015 for an illegal line-up, Madrid were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by a lower-league side for the first time since 2009.

    No goalkeeper has made more saves than Jose Juan Figueras (10) in a game against Madrid this season as Zidane's men suffered back-to-back cup losses.

    Asked if the players still believed in him, Zidane said: "Yes, I believe so. Then you have to ask them.

    "We work, we try and lately we have done good things even though lately a bit less, but apart from the last three or four games, I believe that we have done good things this season.

    "Now we have to think on LaLiga and the Champions League and that's it. To focus because things can be done. But if the players are still touched by my message? You have to ask the players. I believe so and we are in the same boat here."

  • Pirlo's Supercoppa joy 'more beautiful' than as a player Pirlo's Supercoppa joy 'more beautiful' than as a player

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    Pirlo won the Champions League and World Cup in a decorated playing career but said the feeling of leading a team to a trophy is something different.

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  • Zidane 'very calm' after Copa del Rey exit: Whatever has to happen will happen Zidane 'very calm' after Copa del Rey exit: Whatever has to happen will happen

    Zinedine Zidane accepted Real Madrid's stunning Copa del Rey exit to third-tier Alcoyano will lead to further speculation over his future, but insisted he remained "very calm" over the situation.

    Madrid were knocked out of the competition by lower league opponents for the first time since 2009 despite taking the lead on Wednesday, Eder Militao heading them in front on the stroke of half-time.

    However, the reigning top-flight champions in Spain were unable to build on the lead, meaning an 80th-minute equaliser from Jose Solbes forced extra time.

    A penalty shoot-out seemed the likely method to settle the last-32 tie, only for Juanan to pop up with a dramatic late winner that will no doubt increase the growing pressure on Zidane.

    "When you lose there is always talk, I take responsibility and whatever has to happen will happen," the Madrid boss told the media in his post-match interview. 

    "I am very calm. The players wanted to win the game, they try and sometimes different things happen."

    Zidane rested some of his regulars but still selected a strong starting XI, while Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard were all introduced from the bench during proceedings.

    The Frenchman could not fault the effort of his players as he accepted blame for the result; Alcoyano finished the game with 10 men too, Ramon Lopez sent off before Juanan's 115th-minute strike.

    Madrid finished up having 26 shots - 11 of which were on target - and had 73 per cent of possession, yet still crashed out.

    "The players have tried and if we score the second goal it is another match, football is like that," Zidane added after the 2-1 loss.

    "The goalkeeper has made two or three saves and we have not scored the second goal, but I take responsibility. We are out."

    He added: "This is football, it is very difficult because we played against a Segunda Division B team and we have to win the game, but it has not been like that.

    "It can happen, it happens, these are things that happen in a football career. I assume responsibility and we will continue working. We will not go crazy."

    Madrid must quickly put the cup result behind them as they continue their LaLiga title defence on Saturday, travelling to Deportivo Alaves.

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