Martinez provides positive update on Hazard recovery

By Sports Desk April 19, 2020

Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez has revealed Eden Hazard is recovering well from ankle surgery and believes he will "return stronger".

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

The former Chelsea playmaker underwent surgery in the United States before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martinez gave a positive update on Hazard's condition amid uncertainty over when Madrid will be back in action.

The Spaniard told Belgian media: "I know he is recovering well. He is not far from running again and there are no complications.

"Everything went well with the operation, but you also hope that everything goes well in the four to five weeks afterwards without complications, and there were none."

He added: "We know he will return stronger. We were also fortunate, of course, to have his surgery take place just before the coronavirus outbreak.

"Otherwise he would not be able to travel or be treated outside of Madrid. I have a positive feeling that Eden will be back soon."

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    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."

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    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.

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    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.

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    "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."

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    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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