Real Madrid assistant coach David Bettoni urged patience with Eden Hazard after the playmaker showed signs of his best in a win over Deportivo Alaves.

Hazard has struggled to find his best form since arriving at Madrid from Chelsea in 2019, but he scored once and set up another in Saturday's 4-1 LaLiga victory.

The 30-year-old scored and assisted in a single game for Madrid for just the second time and first since October 2019 before coming off just after the hour-mark.

Bettoni, who took charge for the game after Zinedine Zidane tested positive for coronavirus, said Hazard needed time.

"I think Eden has had a tough season and a half with Real Madrid," he told a news conference.

"We have to be patient with him, although obviously in football and especially at Real Madrid, we don't really have time to be that patient but with Eden I think we have to be.

"He had a very good game, scoring a goal and getting an assist and I think we'll see the best of him eventually. We saw a little bit of that today."

Casemiro and Karim Benzema scored before Hazard's strike, only for Joselu to pull a goal back for Alaves.

But Benzema sealed Madrid's win after Hazard came off, the Frenchman reaching at least 15 goals in all competitions for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons with the LaLiga giants.

Bettoni explained his decision to introduce Vinicius Junior in place of Hazard was a tactical choice.

"It was a change because we wanted to bring on Vinicius to give us a bit more pace," he said.

"I think Hazard had a very good hour on the pitch and it was basically just to change things, to add a bit more pace to the front three and nothing more than that."

Madrid are second in LaLiga, four points behind Atletico Madrid, who have played two fewer games.

Karim Benzema has urged Eden Hazard to "make another story" at Real Madrid, after the Belgium star impressed against Deportivo Alaves on Saturday. 

Hazard scored himself and also set up the first of two Benzema goals as Madrid eased to a 4-1 win over LaLiga strugglers Alaves, relieving some of the pressure on Zinedine Zidane, who was absent from the touchline after testing positive for COVID-19. 

Madrid had lost their previous two matches, against Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana before going down to minnows Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey in midweek. 

Casemiro opened the scoring before Benzema struck either side of Hazard's third goal of the season in all competitions. 

Hazard, signed from Chelsea in 2019, has struggled for form amid an injury hit spell at Madrid, but he seemed close to his best against Alaves. 

The 30-year-old both scored and assisted in a league game for just the second time in a Madrid shirt, while only Benzema (four) managed more attempts than Hazard's two.

With Hazard showing signs of a resurgence, Benzema, who has scored 10 league goals this season, wants his team-mate to go on and make his name in the Spanish capital.

"You always notice the depth in this team, I always want to help my team-mates," Benzema told Movistar. 

"Hazard I think he was a great player at Chelsea and now he has to make another story at Madrid. He is well, much better. He works hard and has played a good game. We need the best Hazard." 

Madrid's victory closed the gap, temporarily at least, on LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid, who host Valencia on Sunday.

Los Blancos are four points shy of their city rivals but six clear of Barcelona, who are also in action on Sunday. 

"It was a good game, very good for confidence, we know that each game is very difficult, each rival makes it difficult for us," said Benzema, who has now been involved in 10 goals in eight appearances against Alaves in LaLiga. 

"Today everything came out, we all wanted to play, it was a very good game for us. That is worked every day, the goals, the crosses, the passes. We are on the right track after a hard week for us. We always want to win."

Real Madrid returned to winning ways in style as Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard helped the defending champions to a 4-1 rout over Deportivo Alaves in LaLiga. 

Madrid were in desperate need of a victory after a Supercopa de Espana reverse to Athletic Bilbao and a shock Copa del Rey defeat to lower-tier Alcoyano piled the pressure on Zinedine Zidane, who was absent on Saturday after testing positive for coronavirus. 

Atletico Madrid's late victory at Eibar on Thursday had moved them seven points clear in the title race, though Los Blancos never looked in danger of failing to win on the road in LaLiga for a third successive game, Benzema and Hazard putting them in control after Casemiro's opener. 

Joselu's fifth league goal against Madrid gave Alaves hope, but Benzema's second meant the visitors had little trouble seeing out just their second win in 2021. 

Benzema seemed set to open the scoring when he latched onto Luka Modric's lofted pass, only to be denied first by Fernando Pacheco and then a deflection onto the right-hand upright. 

Madrid made the resulting corner count, though, with Casemiro rising high to head home from Toni Kroos' outswinger.

Madrid’s second goal should have followed in the 22nd minute, yet Ferland Mendy failed to tee up Benzema for a simple finish. 

Benzema had his goal 19 minutes later, sensationally picking out the top of the net with a wonderful, dipping effort from just inside the penalty box. 

Having curled wide earlier on, Hazard made it three on the stroke of half-time with a delicate finish over the onrushing Pacheco. 

Madrid are Joselu's favourite LaLiga opponent and the forward netted again when facing the capital club, this time sending a brilliant header beyond Thibaut Courtois. 

Alaves' comeback hopes were quashed with 20 minutes remaining, however, when Benzema cut in from the left to thump home and settle the contest.

Frank Lampard stated Chelsea do not have players to compare to the calibre and experience of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa as he again sought to temper expectations around his youthful stars.

A 1-0 win over 10-man Fulham last weekend was the Blues' first three-point haul since before Christmas and they are seventh in a Premier League table they briefly topped early in December.

Throughout the subsequent slump, when critics have highlighted a moderate return on considerable transfer investment, Lampard has pointed to the fact the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner - the Germany duo who have underwhelmed since arriving for a combined cost in the region of £125million - and a host of other youngsters still have their best years ahead of them.

For now, though, he feels the elite winners from his own playing days at Stamford Bridge are something Chelsea lack and must work towards

"When you look at the Premier League going forward, around us, when people were sort of lauding us to be title challengers and stuff like that, we do have a squad when you look at the composition of it that is very young, particularly in the forward areas," he told reporters ahead of Tuesday's match against third-placed Leicester City.

"We don't have that history of players: goal machines or assist machines or those things that win you games. With our team, it's potential.

"The club hasn't got an Eden Hazard contributing 50 per cent of goals and assists, it hasn't got a Costa scoring 30 goals.

"We're trying to develop those players and I believe in them strongly, but at the moment we're not quite there, where other teams around us possibly are at the front end of the pitch.

"I think for us, and I should just focus on us, there could be tough times. That's why it's important for me, and I've said this to the players, to keep working, but also to be patient and stay calm around that."

Another figure from the club's past, Brendan Rodgers, will be in the opposite dugout to Lampard at the King Power Stadium.

Leicester manager Rodgers was appointed to Chelsea's academy staff during Jose Mourinho's first spell in charge, although he infamously said he did not wish to "destroy" his career when touted as a possible replacement for Andre Villas Boas in 2012 while at Swansea City.

"I don't know, that's a difficult one, I've got to be careful with this one," Lampard replied when asked whether the Chelsea he leads is a more "nurturing" environment than the one Rodgers experienced.

"I don't want to speak for Brendan when he said that. I suppose at that time, there was a turnaround of managers. I was a player here, so I get that.

"Whether he would give the exact same answer tomorrow after the game, maybe not. For me, all I can do is tackle the job that's in front of me and at the moment we, as Chelsea, are not the Chelsea of when Brendan made those quotes.

"I'm presuming they were made at the time of Chelsea having [Didier] Drogba, [Petr] Cech, [John] Terry, I'm not going to name myself, [Claude] Makelele, whoever, and it would have been a team that was always challenging and the benchmark was different.

"At the moment, we're not a team that has Costa, [Cesc] Fabregas, Hazard, any of the era that came slightly after that.

"We're a team relying on players at the front end of the pitch [who] are clearly new to the Premier League, young to the Premier League."

Lampard was keen to highlight his pitch was not one for sympathy.

He added: "We've seen a couple of big clubs and big managers be questioned within one or two or three weeks, a couple of results this year.

"That's the modern world; I'm not crying about this because it's the Premier League, we all have different expectations, [and] if we're seen to not be getting to them, the pressure comes. That's why we're in this job."

Will a Juventus-Paul Pogba reunion become a reality?

The future of Manchester United star continues to dominate headlines.

A move back to Turin could be on the cards for Pogba.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE TO MAKE POGBA OFFER

Serie A champions Juventus will try to prise Paul Pogba from Manchester United at the end of the season, according to the Calciomercato.

Pogba appears set to leave United following the 2020-21 campaign after his agent Mino Raiola claimed the French midfielder was unhappy in Manchester.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have been linked but Juve, who signed Pogba from United in 2012 before losing him to the Red Devils four years later, want to bring the World Cup winner back to Turin.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Telegraph reports Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be given £200million to spend on new players in the next transfer window. Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku are on the list of potential targets, as well as Benfica's Darwin Nunez amid doubts over Sergio Aguero 's future. Haaland has also been linked with neighbours United , Madrid , Barca , Liverpool and Juve .

Bayern Munich are interested in Madrid defender Eder Militao , claims Mundo Deportivo. It comes as Bayern look to replace David Alaba , who is set to leave the Bundesliga champions on a free transfer. Alaba has been tipped to join Madrid .

Milan  are close to re-signing star pair Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu , says Tuttosport. Corriere dello Sport reports Milan are also nearing a deal to sign veteran forward Mario Mandzukic .

- The Athletic claims Mesut Ozil is poised to leave Arsenal for Turkish giants Fenerbahce after reaching an agreement in principle to terminate his Gunners contract.

- The Transfer Window Podcast claims Madrid are considering the possibility of using Eden Hazard in a deal to lure Kylian Mbappe from PSG.

Memphis Depay has been strongly tipped to move to Barca , however, Ok Diario reports the Lyon captain could join Madrid following Luka Jovic's loan return to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Zinedine Zidane hopes Sergio Ramos and Lucas Vazquez's contracts with Real Madrid are "sorted out".

Ramos, 34, and Vazquez, 29, are both out of contract at the end of the season and their futures remain uncertain.

Reports suggest Ramos has turned down a one-year deal from Madrid, the club he arrived at in 2005.

Asked about Ramos and Vazquez possibly not signing contracts, Zidane told a news conference: "I don't want it but, in football, you never know.

"What I want and what we want you already know. You will ask me again at another press conference after the match and I will tell you the same thing. What I hope is that this will be sorted out, nothing more."

Madrid visit Osasuna in LaLiga on Saturday as they look to keep the pressure on Atletico, who are two points clear and have played two fewer games.

Eden Hazard's future is again a talking point at Madrid and the playmaker last started a league game in November.

But Zidane is unwilling to take risks with the 30-year-old, who has struggled with injuries since arriving at the club.

"He is with us. He is training regularly, then after that I don't know," he said.

"We will see if he is for 90 minutes or not and we will see how the pitch is. And for the next matches we will see the same, little by little."

Zinedine Zidane has no plans to rest Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema as he vowed slowly ease Eden Hazard back to full match fitness.

Benzema failed to register a single shot on goal in Madrid's 2-0 win over Celta Vigo in LaLiga on Saturday and twice missed the target from good positions.

The 33-year-old has started 15 of Madrid's 17 LaLiga matches this season and only goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Raphael Varane have played more minutes.

When asked in a post-match media conference if Benzema, who has scored eight goals in LaLiga, needed a break, following a slightly jaded showing, Zidane disagreed.

"I don’t think he’s tired," Zidane said.

"I think he did well and I took him off so that another player could play. We’re in a great spell. We’re doing the right things and we have to continue like this."

Hazard came off the bench for another run out late in the second half against Celta as he stepped up his return from an injury-hit start to the season.

"We are going to go little by little," added Zidane. "Little by little, you have to recover feelings.

"We have to take it slowly and not force anything. He has to get back to his best and take it slowly. That’s all it is."

Madrid's possession against Celta was 41 per cent which was the lowest recorded in a win under Zidane at home in all competitions.

The Madrid head coach was, however, satisfied with the manner in which his side were able to manage the game against Celta.

"We played a complete game from the beginning to the end," Zidane explained.

"We controlled the game well, we had a good balance, when it came to pressing up and getting the ball back, we did everything well.

"You have to control when the rival team has strong moments in the game, but the feelings are good, out of nine games we won six and three draws."

Goals from Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio gave Madrid the victory as the pair assisted each other in what was the fourth duo to combine between them in a single LaLiga game this season.

Zidane added: "I am happy for Asensio. He has had a major injury and now he is much better and improving every time.

"Vazquez is very reliable, very involved and I am happy for what he is doing. We played a very serious game. I'm happy for everyone."

Real Madrid went top of LaLiga for the first time since October after a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday thanks to goals from Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio.

Vazquez headed Madrid in front six minutes into the game and Asensio added a second after the break with a fine finish.

Celta rarely threatened Thibaut Courtois' goal as their six-game unbeaten run came to an end.

The result helped Zinedine Zidane's side move a point clear of city rivals Atletico Madrid, who will have the chance to return to the summit when they face Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.

Celta almost stole an early lead when Iago Aspas chased a ball behind the defence and chipped an effort over Courtois as he raced off his line, but Nacho chased back to hook it away.

From the resulting counterattack, Madrid went ahead when Asensio broke down the left and his cross picked out Vazquez, who headed in at the back post.

Celta's players claimed for a penalty after Jeison Murillo's volleyed effort struck Ferland Mendy, but the referee dismissed the visitors' appeals.

Madrid went close shortly before the break as Dani Carvajal saw an audacious volley from the edge of the box fly just past the post.

Zidane's side ruthlessly punished some sloppy Celta play soon after half-time, which allowed Vazquez to slide in Asensio to clinically fire past goalkeeper Ruben Blanco.

Fine play by Toni Kroos opened up the Celta defence again on the hour but Madrid captain Karim Benzema lost his footing at the critical moment and flashed his shot past the upright.

Madrid brought on Eden Hazard with 16 minutes left as the Belgian forward continued to build up his match fitness following a long-term injury.

Benzema squandered another late chance when he lifted a shot over the crossbar, while former Los Blancos youngster Miguel Baeza was denied at the death as Madrid saw the game out without conceding.

 

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane said Eden Hazard needs time to return to his best and start games after making his return off the bench in Wednesday's draw with Elche.

Hazard was a substitute as LaLiga champions Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw at Elche midweek, having not featured for Los Blancos since injuring his thigh in November.

The Belgium international star, who was an unused substitute against Granada last week, was introduced with 13 minutes remaining and spurned a late chance for Madrid.

"[Eden Hazard] needs time, he needs game time as well and slowly but surely he'll be back in the starting 11," Zidane told reporters.

"I do think we should have scored a second goal in the first half because we played very well [against Elche] and we struggled more in the second half, but we have to keep working hard and moving forward in the same manner we have recently because there's still a lot to play for in LaLiga."

Madrid lost ground on city rivals and LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid after their five-game winning streak in the league came to an end.

Luka Modric had opened the scoring in the 20th minute with his first header for Madrid after 364 games across all competitions, before Fidel's penalty seven minutes into the second half levelled proceedings.

Spanish giants Madrid have hit the woodwork 18 times across all competitions this season, more than any other club in the top five European leagues.

Madrid are two points adrift of Atletico – who have two matches in hand – and Zidane added: "If you base things on how we've been playing recently, that this draw is possibly not as good a result.

"I think we had more than enough chances to get the second goal which would have allowed us to be much more calm on the ball. Their equaliser made the game much more difficult for us. They then sat a bit deeper and we struggled in the second half. But that's football. I can't really say anything else.

"We have to keep working hard. When you look at how we played in the first half this is two points lost but we have to keep looking forward."

Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made his 100th appearance for the club in all competitions, with 77 of those coming in LaLiga.

"It's three points that have slipped away from us, but we mustn't feel too down because we've been on a very good run and are performing well," said Courtois, who made a late save to deny Elche a dramatic win.

"It wasn't down to being over-confident. They equalised through a penalty, they play some good stuff and defend with two very compact lines close to their box, which makes it difficult to create any sort of danger. We managed to fashion two or three chances that Edgar did well to keep out."

Eden Hazard will be eased back into action for Real Madrid in Wednesday's LaLiga trip to Elche, with boss Zinedine Zidane hinting he is ready to rotate his squad.

Belgium international Hazard has not featured for Madrid since injuring his thigh during the first half of the shock 2-1 home loss to Deportivo Alaves on November 28.

He was back in the squad for last Wednesday's 2-0 win over Granada, remaining an unused substitute for that game.

Zidane revealed after the victory - Madrid's sixth in a row in all competitions - that he was not willing to risk Hazard and will instead slowly work the forward back to full fitness.

After another week on the training ground, Hazard is now in contention to play a part against Elche at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero.

"He'll be there tomorrow and the plan is for him to play a little," Zidane said at Tuesday's pre-match news conference.

"The other day we decided something different. He has been with the team for several days now and we're looking to make the most of that."

Hazard has played 19 times for Madrid in LaLiga since arriving in a big-money move from Chelsea in June 2019, scoring only twice and assisting three more.

Even when fit and available, the 29-year-old has struggled to live up to expectations - his 21 chances created hardly an outstanding figure.

That equates to 1.5 key passes per 90 minutes, which is some way off Real Betis winger Joaquin (2.69) and Barcelona star Lionel Messi (2.68) as LaLiga's most frequent creators among those to have played at least 16 times since the start of 2019-20.

Hazard faces a challenge holding down a spot in the side, however, with Zidane keeping changes to a minimum in terms of his starting line-up during Madrid's impressive winning run.

But with games against Elche and Celta Vigo to come in the space of four days, Zidane suggested he is open to giving some of his fringe players an opportunity to impress.

"There are a lot of professionals here and there are very competent people paying attention to that [the risk of injury]," he said. "We will never take a risk if we know that a player can get hurt.

"The general risk is there, because there are a lot of games and training sessions. But there are very good people here."

Asked specifically about left-back Marcelo and attacking midfielder Isco, who have started a combined eight league games this term, Zidane said: "I'm counting on all my players.

"All the players are training well. That's good news for a coach. They're very professional and I think they're training well.

"I'm happy to see all the players focused. They'll all have chances to play. All these players want to play. It's difficult to leave players out, but this is part of the coach's job and it's the bad part."

Reports from Spain suggest Luka Modric is close to agreeing a one-year contract extension with Madrid and Zidane reiterated he is hopeful Lucas Vazquez and skipper Sergio Ramos will also sign fresh terms.

"The debate is there and you know how I feel about these things," he said.

"We want all these players to stay here because they are the best. I want these things fixed and quickly, of course."

Madrid, level on points with league leaders Atletico Madrid having played two games more, have won their past eight LaLiga games against next opponents Elche.

Eden Hazard is back in contention for Real Madrid's clash with Granada after coming through his eighth injury absence in 16 months.

The Belgium international suffered a thigh problem at the end of last month in the shock 2-1 home defeat to Deportivo Alaves, lasting only 28 minutes on the pitch.

It was the latest in a string of fitness issues that have plagued Hazard since swapping Chelsea for Los Blancos ahead of the 2019-20 season.

On top of the three injury absences he has had to contend with this term, he was also ruled out for a chunk of November due to coronavirus.

He will hope to finally find some consistency and regular playing time starting with the visit of Diego Martinez's in-form Granada on Wednesday – the Andalusians are unbeaten in five across all competitions.

Before Madrid announced the squad on Tuesday, Zinedine Zidane addressed Hazard's mental state after such a difficult start to life at the club.

"So far, emotionally, it may not have been easy [for Hazard]," Zidane told reporters. "But now I see him well. You have to do things patiently, little by little."

Hazard has played 19 times for Madrid in LaLiga but scored only twice, while his assists tally is only marginally better at three.

Even when he has been fit, Hazard has struggled to live up to expectations – his 21 chances created hardly an outstanding figure.

That equates to 1.5 key passes per 90 minutes, which is some way off Joaquin and Lionel Messi as the most frequent creators (among players to have featured at least 15 times since 2019-20 began) with 2.7 every 90 minutes.

 

Frank Lampard admits Olivier Giroud has given him "a really nice problem" as the France striker pushes for a regular Premier League start. 

Four goals against Sevilla in the Champions League on Wednesday showed Giroud can have a big part to play for Chelsea this season. 

Tammy Abraham has led the line for Chelsea recently in the Premier League, and it remains to be seen who Lampard turns to for Saturday's Stamford Bridge clash with Leeds United. 

Giroud has continued to contribute consistently for France, even when sidelined at Chelsea, and Lampard knows he has a player raring to be unleashed in the domestic competition. 

With the delayed Euro 2020 finals coming up next year, Giroud naturally wants to be as match sharp as possible, but Lampard cannot assure him of regular starts. 

"I don’t think it's a case of giving any players assurance of game time," Lampard said. "With the competitive squad we have, that's very difficult to do. 

"All you want when players are out of the team is to train well and get themselves in the team and perform like Oli did the other day. And, of course, that gives me nice problems as such. 

"Oli's always done that for me here, particularly at the back end of last season when he was playing as regularly as he's played at Chelsea in my time at the club. 

"So I'm happy with him. He's given me a really nice problem. His form is good. He's training well."

There has been speculation Giroud could leave Chelsea in January, but Lampard does not appear to be thinking along those lines. 

Yet he could not say with certainty that Giroud was happy in his current role. 

"I can't answer that for Oli. All I can say is that from my point of view, in that forward area I've competition for places," Lampard added. 

"Tammy Abraham has been playing very well for us this season. He's been scoring goals and making assists and he brings attributes. Olivier, like we saw the other day, brings his attributes, so that's great competition for me. 

"I can't give assurances and you'd have to ask Oli. I never see anything negative from Oli and I've got huge respect for him. 

"Playing the way he did the other night, clearly he's going to get opportunities to play for us because that was just a top-class performance all round." 

Giroud has only scored 13 goals in 63 Premier League appearances for Chelsea, although that goals-per-game rate is mitigated by the fact he was a substitute in 38 of those games. 

Where he comes into his own is winning balls in the air, often when taking on opposition defenders. Opta data shows he has won 135 of 235 such aerial challenges, compared to Abraham's 110 of 238 for Chelsea during Giroud's time at the club. 

Giroud might help his cause if he put away a higher percentage of chances that fall his way, though. 

In terms of opportunities defined by Opta as big chances, Giroud has converted just 29.17 per cent (seven of 24 big chances) in the Premier League since joining at the end of January 2018, while Abraham has scored from 31.43 per cent of such openings during the same period. 

Neither can hold a candle to former Chelsea winger Eden Hazard. Between Giroud joining and Hazard leaving Chelsea for Real Madrid at the end of the 2018-19 season, the Belgian found the net from 11 of 21 big chances in the Premier League for an impressive 52.38 per cent record. 

It may also make Chelsea's strikers blush that Hazard remains the club's top Premier League goal scorer for the period since Giroud arrived from Arsenal, with his 20 goals putting him two ahead of Abraham.

Zinedine Zidane has acknowledged Eden Hazard is experiencing a "hard time" but insists Real Madrid will do everything they can to help their record signing. 

The Belgium international has been blighted by ankle and leg problems since joining the Spanish giants from Chelsea nearly 18 months ago.

Last season he started just 14 games in LaLiga, playing a minor role as Madrid won the title in his first campaign at the club.

He has continued to struggle this term and suffered an injury to the rectus femoris muscle in his right thigh in just his third league start of the campaign against Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

No timescale has been put on his return but he has not been named in Madrid's squad for Tuesday's Champions League trip to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Zidane said it is Madrid's responsibility to look after the 29-year-old and the Frenchman hopes the forward can return stronger than before. 

Asked at a media conference if Hazard might experience some psychological impact after yet another injury, Zidane responded: "No. Sometimes injuries happen and we have to endure. He is strong, I have no doubt. 

"He is having a hard time lately. We are going to help him to get better soon.

"It is a complicated situation for Eden. He has never been injured in his career and now has more misfortunes. He will surely come back stronger. We look forward to seeing him with us again."

Despite a largely indifferent Champions League campaign so far, which has seen them win just two of their four Group B games, Madrid can seal a last-16 spot for a record 24th time with victory against Shakhtar.

Luis Castro's side have failed to win any of their three games since beating Madrid on matchday one, but Zidane is preparing his players for what he describes as the most important game in the group. 

"It is up to us to get through," he said. "Tomorrow is another final, there are two left. It is surely the most important game because it can take us to another phase."

Since scoring the third goal in their 3-2 win over Madrid, Shakhtar have failed to score with each of their last 23 shots in the competition.

However, Los Blancos defender Nacho Fernandez still anticipates a challenging fixture in Kiev.

"We need to try to be much more attentive," he said. "They are a very fast team, very dynamic. We will try to get ahead on the scoreboard and be attentive defensively."

Eden Hazard suffered a thigh injury against Deportivo Alaves on Saturday, Real Madrid have confirmed.

The Belgium international has been blighted by ankle and leg problems since joining Zinedine Zidane's Spanish giants from Chelsea nearly 18 months ago.

It was not immediately clear what his latest problem was, with Hazard able to walk off the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano pitch – albeit in obvious discomfort – to be replaced by Rodrygo after 28 minutes of the game.

On Monday, though, Madrid confirmed he has sustained an injury to the rectus femoris muscle in his right thigh.

No timescale has been put on his return but he has not been named in Madrid's squad for Tuesday's Champions League trip to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Saturday was just Hazard's third top-flight appearance of the season, after previous outings against Villarreal and Huesca.

He scored in the 4-1 victory over Huesca but has failed to create a single chance for his team-mates in his 153 minutes on the pitch this term in LaLiga.

Last season he started just 14 games in the league, playing a minor role as Madrid won the title in his first campaign at the club.

Zinedine Zidane admitted Real Madrid produced an unacceptable performance as the reigning LaLiga champions slumped to another dismal defeat.

Cadiz, Shakhtar Donetsk and Valencia had already beaten Madrid this season, which is in its infancy, and Deportivo Alaves added their name to the list of surprise conquerors across all competitions thanks to a richly deserved 2-1 win on Saturday.

There were grumbles from the Madrid camp about decisions the VAR may have given them, with penalty claims from Eden Hazard and Marcelo failing to result in spot-kicks.

But Madrid head coach Zidane was clear in his mind that his team got what they deserved from the clash at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium, where the Spanish giants lost for the third time in LaLiga this term.

The losses to Cadiz and Shakhtar also came at Madrid's temporary home, which they are using while the Santiago Bernabeu is being renovated.

They were pushovers for much of Saturday's game, with Lucas Perez and Joselu giving Alaves a 2-0 lead before a familiar late Madrid rally saw Casemiro net from close range and Isco hit the top of the bar.

Conceding the early penalty that Perez tucked away made Madrid's task especially challenging, but they repeatedly looked vulnerable to Alaves' energetic, fast-paced counter-attacks.

"When you start the game like that, everything is complicated. We haven't been focused," Zidane said, speaking on Movistar LaLiga.

"We are not going to look for excuses. We played a bad game. I am the coach and I am to blame.

"We have to turn the page. On Tuesday we have another game [against Shakhtar]. We will continue working. We are going to try to change the dynamics."

Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois gave away the ball sloppily to gift Joselu the second for Alaves early in the second half, while Los Blancos suffered a blow when star winger Hazard had to come off just before the half-hour mark.

The former Chelsea player has been tormented by injuries in his Madrid career, but it appears that Hazard does not see his latest blow as anything serious.

"I hope and I think that Hazard's [injury] is a knock like he said and that it's not muscular," Zidane said.

Madrid sit fourth in the table, six points behind Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad, with their one consolation being that rivals Barcelona have started the season even more wretchedly.

Three defeats in their last five home games across all competitions is bleak form for Madrid, given they had only lost three of their previous 31 such games.

Casemiro said Alaves finished their chances better and praised the quality of Perez and Joselu, who were outstanding as a front pairing and went close several times to stretching the visitors' lead.

The Brazilian midfielder felt Madrid should have been better served by the match officials though, saying, according to AS: "Talking about the referee after the game is not the time, the VAR is there to help."

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