We can say a lot of things about Eden Hazard.
He is talented. He is unlucky. We wish he could play more. We wish he could be healthy. We wish he could return to being the guy who dusted defenders for fun and churned out highlight reel after highlight reel. But Real Madrid don’t work in the business of wishes. They are in the business of winning football matches, and, this season, their manager Carlo Ancelotti has often made it clear based on his selections that he does not think Hazard is helping Madrid win matches.
Real Madrid are first in LaLiga. They won their Champions League group. They will play in the final of the Spanish Supercup. And they have achieved this success mostly without Hazard, who has zero goals and just 724 minutes to his name in all competitions. That’s fewer minutes than Lucas Vazquez, Fede Valverde, Nacho Fernandez, Marco Asensio, Rodrygo Goes, and Eduardo Camavinga.
What I am going to say will upset many of you who love Hazard. It upsets me, too. It’s not my opinion. It’s not my decision. But it is my evaluation of the situation, based on the facts before me.
Real Madrid do not trust Eden Hazard.
Hazard has never played a single minute in El Clasico. The biggest game and the most important game to Madrid emotionally. Even in the Supercup, Ancelotti never called his number. He started Asensio, and when he had to take out Vinicius Junior on the left, he chose to put in a midfielder, Camavinga, instead.
It’s not that he thinks Hazard isn’t good enough to play against Barcelona, who aren’t even a top-four team in LaLiga. It’s not even that he thinks Camavinga is a better left winger. How could he think that?
But Ancelotti does not trust Hazard. He does not trust him to defend a lead in a big game. He does not trust him more than he trusts Asensio to score, Rodrygo to create and track back, or Vinicius for 22 obvious reasons (Vini’s goal contributions this season, for those of you who are neglecting your duty to keep abreast of his statistical achievements after each match).
The two Clasicos Hazard did not play in this season are just two examples of Ancelotti bypassing the Belgian in a big match. Hazard never played against the other top teams in LaLiga. He registered no minutes in El Derbi. None against Real Sociedad or Sevilla, who are in second right now, either.
Even in the Champions League, we see the same story. Hazard played nine minutes against Inter in December with the group effectively sealed, the match already 2-0 for Los Merengues. And his only Champions League start was the loss to Sheriff, in which the Belgian played pretty well but contributed to no goals.
Ancelotti has his main XI. He has his main subs. He has an idea of what he wants from his players and who he trusts in the biggest matches. Hazard is not a part of any of that. Ancelotti values his talent and wants to push him to improve, but he knows that when it comes down to it, he cannot sacrifice the team’s defensive stability or start a player who cannot even beat Alcoyano’s defenders one-on-one with consistency.