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Real Madrid 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk: Player Ratings

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid side outclassed Shakhtar Donetsk in an entertaining game on Wednesday night to extend their lead atop their Champions League group. The 2-1 scoreline is kind on the Ukrainian side who deserved to lose by a far bigger margin against the European Champions.

The win takes Los Blancos to a perfect score of nine points in three games while Donetsk are placed second with four. While the final standings are far from being mathematically closed, one would expect that the result is enough to seal the top spot for the hosts.

Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr got onto the scoreboard early in the first half before the opposition pulled one back later in the opening period. The second half was filled with opportunities for both sides, but poor finishing kept the score to a modest 2-1. 

Madrid Universal beings you the player ratings from Real Madrid 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk.

Andriy Lunin: 6

After Thibaut Courtois’s injury, Lunin has been thrown into the deep end all of a sudden. Shakhtar Donetsk barely tested him at Santiago Bernabeu but he looked a bit shaky when called into action and conceded a goal. Yet, he did make two saves.

Daniel Carvajal: 5.5

The Spanish veteran did not have much to do in defence with the Ukrainians only producing the sporadic counter-attack. However, his contribution to attack was close to nil on a night when Real Madrid dominated the possession. Not one of his six crosses found the target and he also failed to complete any dribbles.

Eder Militao: 7.5

Los Blancos’ centre-backs were on point against the visitors, barely putting a foot wrong. Militao was at the centre of Real Madrid’s defence, making crucial interceptions. Made three clearances, two interceptions, and two tackles and won nine duels on the night.

David Alaba: 8

Apart from an inspiring performance in defence, the Austrian international was heavily involved in the buildup play for Ancelotti’s side. He made four key passes and created one big chance in addition to his 11 defensive actions. Moreover, five of his six attempted crosses reached the intended target.

Ferland Mendy: 6

The left-back was solid and did not have much defensive work to do. He completely nullified Maryan Shved and Yukhm Konoplia and won the battle on the left. However, his attacking contribution was minimal.

Federico Valverde: 8.5

The Uruguayan’s transformation this season has been otherworldly. Given his current form, it would not be an overstatement to say that he is a guaranteed starter in the crowded midfield of Real Madrid.

Top-notch yet again (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Against Shakhtar, the youngster produced a whopping seven key passes and took three shots. He completely owned the right flank and finished the game as one of the best players in white.

Aurelien Tchouameni: 7.5

Placed as a defensive midfielder, Tchouameni did his job well right until he was substituted off in the 75th minute. However, the fact of the matter is that he was barely tested defensively. A good display with close to 99% pass accuracy but there is a feeling that he could have contributed more in the attacking play.

Toni Kroos: 8

The beauty of Toni Kroos’ game is that his contributions are not noticeable until he is off the field. However, the entire structure of Real Madrid would crumble without him.

He was the most involved player in the game, once again clocking north of 100 touches. Moreover, he made five key passes and dictated not only the tempo of the play but the distribution of Los Blancos’ attacks.

Rodrygo: 8.5

The closest contender to Federico Valverde as Real Madrid’s best player on the field, Rodrygo was involved in both goals against the Ukrainians. His astonishing shot from distance helped Los Blancos take the lead in the first half before he clinically laid the ball to Vinicius’ feet for the second goal.

Karim Benzema: 7.5

In terms of general performance, Karim Benzema was a monster on the field. He orchestrated Real Madrid’s play in the final third and his cheeky touches and passes bamboozled the Shakhtar defence time and time again.

However, he was far from his best in front of goal. Despite recording four shots on target and a handful more off it, he failed to get onto the scoresheet.

Vinicius Jr: 8

Another game, another goal for Vinicius Jr. However, he could have easily had a hat-trick or even more against Igor Jovicevic’s side. Nevertheless, he continues to be an unstoppable force on the left wing for the club and is on course for a record-breaking season.

Substitutes

Eduardo Camavinga: 6

Made just nine touches in his 15-minute spell with nothing particularly productive arising from them.

Marco Asensio: 7

Came on for ten minutes, hit the woodwork once, made a key pass and had one shot blocked.

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Features

Eden Hazard’s downfall: From brilliance to burnout

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Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Early in July 2018, Belgium’s golden generation had their heart broken for the umpteenth time when Samuel Umtiti’s header saw them eliminated in the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. There still was a game to come, but it was difficult to believe that Roberto Martinez’s men could put up a brave face once again and battle it out.

The ever-insignificant third-place match between Belgium and England soon kicked off at Krestovsky Stadium. Leading 1-0 with seven minutes to go, Eden Hazard received the ball from Kevin De Bruyne, nonchalantly skipped past Phil Jones, sent Jordan Pickford the wrong way and slammed it into the near post.

The goal summed up everything about the then-Chelsea star’s campaign. Simple, elegant and filled with confidence. Hazard picked up the silver ball in the World Cup that year and was only behind Luka Modric as the best player in the tournament. Fast forward four years and Hazard barely came off the bench for his national team in Qatar.

Still just 32, age was not the factor that saw his prominence for the Red Devils fall so steeply. Moreover, the fact that not a soul batted their eye over his absence spoke volumes about the forward’s difficult four years.

Origins

Hazard was always one to be considered naturally gifted. Since the day he first played for a club at just four years old, onlookers knew they were seeing something special blossom.

Hazard was one of the best in the world at Chelsea (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

In 2005, the player’s hunt for professional training took him to Lille, France. In two years, he had his first contract and made his debut for the first team aged just 16. A special chapter in his career thus began, one in which he would go on to score 36 times in 147 appearances.

It was only in June 2012 that the winger moved to Chelsea, a club in which he would go on to rewrite history. Many call him the most skilful player to have ever donned the blue colours of London, even to this day.

In his seven years at Chelsea, he took the club to the Premier League title twice. Although the UEFA Champions League proved to be a steep challenge, he won the UEFA Europa League twice in addition to two domestic cups.

To this day, the Premier League club’s website describes Hazard as a ‘shining star with special skill, speed and a smile.‘ Yet, there are many in Madrid and across the globe who would argue with every letter of that statement with their all. What brought about such a radical change in stature after all?

A fateful move to Madrid

When Real Madrid come calling, very few players even have the mind to think twice about the offer. Los Blancos‘ call is said to be a train that passes only once, and it would be devastating for any individual to miss out on the opportunity having been presented with it.

Hazard arrived at Real Madrid in 2019 (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)

At the end of a taxing transfer saga, the Belgian International announced his departure from Chelsea to Real Madrid in the summer of 2019. The move involved a fee of €100 million, one that could increase to €146 million with variables.

The premonitory signs of an unsuccessful transfer were there for the taking from the get-go. Hazard arrived at the Real Madrid training camp unfit, overweight and unsurprisingly sluggish. He forced a strong presence in the media to defend his position, but it was clear that he already could not handle the spotlight.

A lack of fitness delayed his debut for the club by two months. Understandably fazed by his new environment and the novel system, it took the forward close to a month to record his first goal and assist which came against Granada at the Santiago Bernabeu.

From there on began a chain of vicious injuries and setbacks that took the player’s career to the cleaners.

Hazard was at the receiving end of a harsh challenge in Real Madrid’s clash against PSG that ruled him out of action for 15 games. The hairline crack was soon resolved, but he was again forced to spend 76 days on the sidelines for a fissure on his Fibula.

The 2020-21 season for Hazard was perhaps the worst any sportsperson could go through. A combination of muscular setbacks and COVID saw him miss a combined 174 days of action and reduced his presence in the squad to a mere formality.

Two years into his Real Madrid career, the Belgian had taken no quantifiable steps towards establishing himself at the club. And things hardly improved for him in his third season at the club, even as Los Blancos won the La Liga and the Champions League under Carlo Ancelotti.

“These have been three difficult years but next year I will give everything for you guys. I’m sure that next year will be mine, I’ve no doubts,” he said emotionally in an interview after being carried to a UCL without contributing.

Yet, with half the season past him, Hazard has only featured 102 minutes on the field in La Liga.

The most embarrassing development in his Real Madrid chapter, perhaps one that cannot be superseded, came early in February. An out-of-the-blue statement from the club revealed that Hazard suffered from patellar tendinosis in his left knee, all while not participating in the team’s last six games.

Rocked by yet another injury (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

It has never been in doubt, but his latest injury forces one to ponder again – Is there really a way back from the mess Hazard is in?

What next for Eden Hazard

“Thank you for your love and support, a page turns today”, a clearly moved Hazard said while announcing his international retirement after Belgium’s disastrous FIFA World Cup campaign.

Over four years after winning the silver ball award in his prime, the Real Madrid ace had dropped one of the worst campaigns in a red shirt and was clearly not very happy about it.

Truth be told, many saw the move coming from afar. As harsh as it may sound, it may not be long before the world hears him face the press once more, this time announcing quits from the sport.

Football is a game of mental fortitude as much as it is of physical nuance. Hazard has lived his days as the best, amongst the best and against the best in England.

Little did the world know that the Belgian’s peak years were the ones seen as his stepping stones to greatness.

“I’ve doubted maybe going through enough injuries. I didn’t know whether I’d be at my best. I’ve broken my ankle three times and I don’t know if it will ever be the same again”, he said in 2021.

Now, with two more years and a host of injuries more in his bag, it would be criminal to even expect him to be in a position of mental strength. For all the resilience the winger has shown over the years, it all feels too overwhelming to continue beyond a point.

The hope for Hazard to return to his imperial best will live on. The dream that one day, the former wing-wizard will run through the opposition defence with his signature cutbacks and shimmies of the foot is one that will never leave the minds of Real Madrid fans.

But what seems clear at this point is that Hazard’s days as a Galactico are numbered. The 32-year-old will enter the final year of his contract in the summer and will most certainly be offloaded by Real Madrid.

Perhaps, a change of surroundings could help Hazard gather some of his lost gloss back. But a comeback from such physical, mental and emotional rock-bottom would be difficult even through a miracle. So, it would not come as a surprise if he decides to step away from the game altogether, following in the footsteps of former teammate Gareth Bale.

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