Hazard could be the catalyst for improvements at Madrid

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Credit: Matthias Hangst

Real Madrid’s 1-1 draw with Real Valladolid on Saturday maintained the club’s unbeaten start to the season, but highlighted that Zinedine Zidane’s team is far from the finished article.

Sergi Guardiola’s late goal secured a point for Valladolid and prevented Madrid from following up their opening day victory at Celta Vigo.

Zidane had already come under fire from the Spanish media after a poor pre-season and results like this are unlikely to help his cause.

However, with Eden Hazard yet to make his competitive debut following an injury, the bookmakers are giving punters better Real Madrid odds for this season than last year and it is not unreasonable to believe that Madrid will improve as the season progresses.

Read on as we assess Madrid’s chances of success in 2019/20.

Squad issues still not resolved

Madrid have made some impressive acquisitions this summer, but there are still some issues in the squad that haven’t been fully resolved.

Hazard, Luka Jovic, Rodrygo, Eder Militao and Ferland Mendy have all arrived for big money, but they may regret their failure to sign another quality midfielder.

Paul Pogba and Christian Eriksen had been angling for moves from the Premier League and Zidane would undoubtedly have been happy to add either player to his squad.

The transfers haven’t happened, leaving Zidane lumbered with players like Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez who he clearly doesn’t rate.

Barca a big stumbling block

Barcelona deservedly retained the La Liga title last season and they are favourites to make it three in a row this time around.

The signings of Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong have made them even stronger and they’ll be tough to stop this term.

However, Zidane has a decent record against Barca as a coach, losing just two out of seven previous matches against them.

If he can inspire Madrid to enhance that record this season, his side could emerge as serious contenders for the title.

Zidane a Champions League master

The Madrid boss knows what it takes to win in Europe having guided the club to three successive Champions League successes from 2016 to 2018.

Those victories owed a lot to Cristiano Ronaldo’s talents, but Zidane will be confident that Hazard is the man who can fill the void.

An injury has delayed the former Chelsea star’s competitive debut for Madrid and he will be eager to make his mark when he returns to action.

The Champions League may well bring out the best in Zidane’s squad and they are strongly fancied to reach the latter stages of the competition.

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