Monday will mark a strange kind of anniversary at Real Madrid.
A year ago, as Zinedine Zidane’s side beat Granada, Eden Hazard scored his first – and to date, his only – goal for the club.
There was little reason to believe at that stage that the Belgian would go on to endure such a miserable 12 months.
Indeed, it was his phenomenal final season at Stamford Bridge that convinced Florentino Perez to abandon the anti-Galactico strategy that had endured for the previous five years.
Granted, it hasn’t been all bad. That 3-2 victory over Granada also saw him provide an assist for Luka Modric, while he also impressed in early displays against Eibar and at home to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
Hazard’s Real career beset by injuries
Yet it was in that European fixture that he suffered one of the many ankle injuries that have blighted his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Hazard has already missed 32 games since moving to Spain.
For a little perspective, the 29-year-old missed a total of 20 games in his seven years at Chelsea.
What is perhaps even more concerning is that his prolonged absences have been caused by seven separate knocks, rather than just one lengthy lay-off.
This time, it is a muscle injury in his right leg which is set to sideline him for a month. That is likely to rule him out of El Clasico, which takes place on October 25.
It is inevitable that as he approaches his 30th birthday in January he is starting to slow down. However, there have also been concerns over his weight as he admitted to struggling with his diet upon returning to Real’s pre-season camp.
That kind of scrutiny has arguably been worse in the absence of other scapegoats.
Even Gareth Bale is no longer around to attract the whistles of Real’s baying fans.
Hazard had asked to be judged on his second season after calling his debut campaign the worst of his career.
So far, it looks like more of the same as his dream move continues to prove a nightmare.
Who will Real Madrid play in the Champions League?
Zidane will now be without Hazard for the start of Real’s Champions League campaign.
Los Blancos are looking to win the competition for the fourth time in six years and will be confident of easing through to the knockout rounds.
The Spanish champions will play Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan and Borussia Mönchengladbach in Group B of the competition.
After drawing a blank on the opening day of the season against Real Sociedad, Madrid are now up and running with consecutive wins over Real Betis and Real Valladolid.
Their record in Europe under Zidane will be reason enough to place them among the favourites.
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