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National team manager defends Real Madrid winger against ‘lazy’ comments on weight

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Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Eden Hazard is set to play a critical role for Belgium in the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup. However, the forward has been far from important in the Real Madrid squad, having fallen behind the likes of Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and even Marco Asensio in the pecking order.

The former Chelsea superstar has faced criticism not only for his performances but also for his physical shape. Many fans have indeed criticised the forward at the start of the season, calling him ‘overweight’.

However, in a recent interview with talkSPORT, Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has criticised the fans who called out Hazard for his physical shape, labelling the comments as ‘lazy’.

“Eden Hazard can have bad games and can have moments when he’s not at his best. People say it’s because of his body shape or he’s carrying too much body fat.

“Well, he’s carrying the same body fat when he makes a difference. You need to understand that it’s a player based on his talent and not a player based on the physicality he brings to the game,” he said.

Hazard may have scored only seven goals for Real Madrid in all competitions, but he does have a stellar record against Belgium. He has featured in 122 matches for his country, scoring 33 goals.

“He’s got his strengths in taking people on in this one-vs-one action. If he doesn’t play well then the easy comment, the lazy comment, is that he’s not as thin or athletic as he should be.

“I think that’s an irrelevant comment and I see it as a lazy comment. Eden can have good games and bad games, but he always has the same body shape,” Martinez added.

With the World Cup less than three weeks away, Hazard will be hoping to play a starring role for his country and help the highly talented Belgian team secure the coveted title for the first time. The Red Devils will kickstart their campaign on November 23 when they take on Canada at Al Rayyan Stadium.

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Features

Real Madrid’s best lineup next season with Kroos retiring, Mbappe and Endrick joining

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Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

It is set up to be a transformative summer for Real Madrid. After the UEFA Champions League final has concluded and the grand showdown finally has a victor, the Merengues are expected to undergo a squad revamp.

Indeed, the Santiago Bernabeu is preparing to welcome several high-profile signings, while also bidding farewell to some beloved Madrid legends.

Considering the potential arrivals of Kylian Mbappe and Endrick, as well as Toni Kroos’ recent retirement, here is how Real Madrid could shape up next season:

Goalkeeper

Having made a long-awaited return from injury, Thibaut Courtois is anticipated to guard Real Madrid’s goal next season once more.

The Belgian goalie has already started featuring in the starting XI and is expected to play against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final, too.

As such, his place for next season is hardly in doubt. However, unlike previous seasons, he will face much fiercer competition from Andriy Lunin, who has enjoyed a stellar campaign.

Defence

Fortifications in the defensive line remain high on Real Madrid’s priority list in the upcoming summer transfer window. However, even with the given options the Royal Whites boast assurance and grit in their back-line.

The likely occupants on the flanks would be Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy, who have both produced great exhibitions throughout the campaign.

Ferland Mendy has the full trust of Carlo Ancelotti. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Carvajal is known to punish defensive lines and on the defensive end, his anticipation of forwards has been equally appreciable.

Meanwhile, Mendy’s resurgence this season has earned him immense faith from the coaching staff, as his defensive aptitude continues to set him apart.

In the centre-back positions, Real Madrid are expected to rely on the dependable figures of Antonio Rudiger and Eder Militao.

Real Madrid consider Rudiger to be indispensable owing to his front-footed style and the important role he has had to play amidst the injury crisis. Similarly, Militao is valued by the team as he proceeds to regain match fitness after recovering from a long-term injury.

Midfield

The void of Toni Kroos in midfield will compel coach Carlo Ancelotti and co. to
reconsider their midfield strategy.

Real Madrid will be unable to count on Kroos next season. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Thankfully for Real Madrid, their succession stage had begun a while ago and they have ample options to trust in the center of the park.

With Aurelien Tchouameni protecting the base of midfield, Real Madrid will possess security and deep progression.

Ahead, occupying the interior midfield positions, Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga are well-suited to provide a combination of energy off the ball and threat in possession.

And to put the cherry on top, Jude Bellingham’s place as the number 10 behind the two strikers would certify his status as a pivotal playmaker and scorer in the team’s setup.

However, he is adept at making third-man runs and connecting the midfield with the offence and could play deeper to not only make up for Kroos’ absence but also facilitate more options up front.

Attack

Real Madrid’s offensive department is where the largest reform is expected to take place.

Kylian Mbappe’s goalscoring instincts need little introduction by now and he is thus anticipated to be fielded as the striker.

Vinicius Jr. is expected to take up the position as a secondary striker drifting from the left, something he has become quite accustomed to this season.

Endrick will have to battle for a starting spot. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)

It is worth noting that Endrick could also play a part by either replacing Vinicius off the bench and playing off Mbappe.

It remains to be seen how many men forward Ancelotti will commit to but the presence of Mbappe and Vinicius seems set in stone, given their huge profiles and status in world football. How the manager uses Rodrygo Goes will be interesting to see as well.

All in all, considering Ancelotti’s proficiency in profiling players, Madrid fans can expect to see these stars play in favourable environments.

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