Sport

Hazard Returns For Real Madrid As Barcelona Struggle To Keep Sparkle

Real Madrid could welcome back their priciest Galactico this weekend at home against Celta Vigo , while Barcelona must adjust to life without yet another of the most expensive members of their squad as they entertain Getafe.

Eden Hazard cost Real Madrid 100 million euros ( $ 108 . 4 million ) last summer , eclipsing the initial fee paid for Gareth Bale.

So far , Real Madrid has not got much for the money they paid Chelsea .
The Belgian started the season with a hamstring problem , then broke a bone in his foot against Paris Saint -Germain in the Champions League in late November . He has not played since .

He is expected to be on the bench against Celta.

The Galicians climbed out of the relegation places last Saturday with a home win over Sevilla. But Celta’ s victory was their only win in six games while Real Madrid , on a run of five straight wins, are the hottest team in the league .

For Hazard , and for Real Madrid , Celta are not the target, nor are mid -table Levante who they face next Saturday .
The date ringed on their calendars will be February 26 when they face Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League last -16 tie .

After difficult autumn , Zinedine Zidane has his team purring and the endless questions over Bale’ s role are a sideshow he can ignore.

The other team in what is turning into a traditional Spanish two -horse race are looking less comfortable .

Barcelona were top as recently January 25. Now they trail Real by three points.

They also face a traditional also -ran at home this weekend . But Getafe are the surprise of the Spanish season and have won four straight matches to climb to third and can cut the gap to second to four points with a first league victory away to Barcelona .

β€œ Everything is possible , ” said Getafe defender Allan Nyom.

Last week , against Real Betis , Lionel Messi assisted all three goals, setting up midfielders Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets and defender Clement Lenglet .
β€œ When he doesn ’ t score he gives assists, ” said Nyom.

Last week , against Real Betis , Lionel Messi assisted all three goals, setting up midfielders Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets and defender Clement Lenglet .
β€œ When he doesn ’ t score he gives assists, ” said Nyom.

Of the players Barcelona have bought to provide creativity and goals alongside Messi , only Antoine Griezmann , who started on Sunday is available . Philippe Coutinho is on loan to Bayern Munich , Luis Suarez is recovering from a knee injury and the club confirmed this week that Ousmane Dembele is out for the season .

Lenglet will be missing too . Seven minutes after scoring his second league goal of the season he was sent off. He also picked up a red when Barcelona won at Getafe in a bad -tempered match in September .

– Champions League awaits –
While Barcelona and Real have another week to prepare for their return to the Champions League , Atletico Madrid host Liverpool next Tuesday and Valencia play Atalanta in Milan on Wednesday .
Conveniently they were scheduled to meet this weekend in Valencia and La Liga has brought the game forward to Friday . Their Champions League opponents are both playing league matches on Saturday .

If they want to return to the competition next year , Friday’ s meeting could prove crucial . Atletico are clinging onto the fourth Champions League place only on goal difference from Sevilla while Valencia are just two points back in seventh .
Ones to watch : Willian Jose and Loren Moron

Barcelona are making noises about asking for an exemption to buy a striker because of their injury problems .
Real Sociedad ’ s Willian Jose , a 28- year-old Brazilian who has gone from journeyman to must -have striker in the last month, and Moron , a 26 -year-old who has only established himself in the Betis team in the last 18 months, are reportedly top of the list .

They can improve their value by adding to their modest eight league goals each this season on Sunday . Willian ’ s Real Sociedad make the short trip to Eibar and Betis visit Leganes.

Key stats
14 : Lionel Messi is the top scorer in La Liga
11 : Lionel Messi is the top assist provider in La Liga
75 : Yellow cards Getafe have accumulated, most in La Liga. They collected four against Barcelona in September , but Barcelona edged them with four yellows and a red
Fixtures ( GMT )
Friday
Valencia v Atletico Madrid ( 2000 )
Saturday
Mallorca v Alaves ( 1200 ) , Barcelona v Getafe ( 1500 ) , Villarreal v Levante ( 1730 ) , Granada v Real Valladolid ( 2000 )
Sunday
Sevilla v Espanyol ( 1100 ) , Leganes v Real Betis ( 1300 ) , Eibar v Real Sociedad ( 1500 ) , Athletic Bilbao v Osasuna ( 1730 ) , Real Madrid v Celta Vigo ( 2000 )

Derekki Boy
the authorDerekki Boy

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