Eden Hazard can earn Real Madrid redemption in LaLiga title race after FC Barcelona let Atletico off the hook

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Andrea Orlandi
·4-min read
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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

After the past week, Real Madrid will consider themselves fortunate to still have silverware to play for this season.

They remain within touching distance in LaLiga despite failing to score in two of their last three LaLiga matches, and had Chelsea been more clinical earlier this week then Real could have been on the brink of Champions League elimination.

Real have the opportunity to redeem themselves this week. They have an opportunity to pile the pressure on title rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid (who face each other next weekend), as they take on Osasuna on Saturday night, before a second leg at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday.

Eden Hazard also has an opportunity to redeem himself, coming back to fitness at a crucial time. Hazard was meant to be the replacement to Cristiano Ronaldo when he arrived at Real Madrid from Chelsea, but that hasn’t come to fruition yet.

It’s been a vicious cycle of lacking fitness and picking up injuries, which for everyone’s enjoyment in LaLiga has hopefully stopped now.

AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images

Fortunately for Hazard, he’s still got the backing of the fans and can earn his redemption with crucial goals in the LaLiga title race or against former club Chelsea - he should get more minutes under his belt against Osasuna.

Real have struggled to score goals recently and don’t have a free-flowing attacking style to create bundles of chances, so they may require inspiration from Hazard to unlock Osasuna’s defence.

Last season, and at the start of this campaign, Hazard showed a connection with Karim Benzema which was magical at times; they speak the same football language. World-class players tend to have this intuitive connection where they don’t speak, or look - they just know where their team-mate is.

Real will need Hazard and Benzema to be at their best to beat Osasuna, and I expect Zinedine Zidane to revert to the 4-3-3 system as three centre-backs did not work well against Chelsea.

Osasuna are safe and only playing for pride in LaLiga, which could be a danger to Real. Jagoba Arrasante’s men won’t need much more motivation other than any win against Real will go down in the club’s history.

I’m looking forward to seeing Osasuna’s striker Chimy Ávila, who is back to fitness after two serious knee injuries, and it would be quite the fairytale if he netted the winner.

Real Madrid vs Osasuna, Saturday, 8pm, LIVE ON LaLigaTV

Atlético can breathe a sigh of relief after Barcelona slipped up at home to Granada on Thursday night, with LaLiga’s title race continuing this topsy-turvy course.

They will need to improve from last time out to beat an Elche side fighting for their life in LaLiga. Atléti lacked intensity against Athletic Bilbao and they are fortunate to remain top of the league

going in to this fixture. Diego Simeone has a tendency to be too negative at times and it backfired at the end of the game.

Luis Suarez, Joao Felix and Thomas Lemar’s return to fitness should influence Simeone to be more attack-minded against Elche. A win will maintain their position at top of the league and would be a huge psychological boost going into a potential title decider at Barcelona next week.

Elche will be no pushovers. Despite being rooted to the bottom of the league they have performed very well at home against big clubs, drawing at home to Real Madrid and making life very difficult for Barcelona. I see Atlético winning this, but I expect it to be a very tight game.

Elche vs Atlético Madrid, Saturday 3.15pm, LIVE ON LaLigaTV

On the face of it, it’d appear Friday night’s fixture between Celta Vigo and Levante, live on FreeSports and LaLigaTV, is a dead rubber, but the result could allow the winner to dream of European football next season.

If Villarreal go all the way in the Europa League, permutations could open an additional spot in Europe with 8th in LaLiga qualifying for the new Europa Conference League.

Celta Vigo started the season slowly and are now starting to find their form, mainly down to their talisman Iago Aspas back scoring goals. Aspas is focused on earning a call-up to the Spain squad for this summer’s Euros, so he is not going to let his levels drop.

Levante’s results in recent weeks show why they are yet to take that next step and push for the European spots. They went on a great run in the Copa Del Rey and almost made the final but since losing that semi-final, they haven’t recovered.

These two sides’ managers prefer to attack than defend and it has the makings of a great match with plenty of goals in them.

Celta Vigo vs Levante, Friday 8pm, LIVE ON FreeSports and LaLigaTV

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