Eden Hazard's future at Real Madrid: The new Gareth Bale or saved by Zinedine Zidane? | ESPN FC

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ESPN UK 07 May, 2021 - 04:37pm 23 views

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Chelsea vs. Real Madrid - Football Match Report - May 5, 2021 - ESPN. ESPNChelsea vs. Real Madrid - Football Match Report - May 5, 2021

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Opinion: I'm running out of words to praise colossal N'Golo Kante, but here goes.. – Talk Chelsea

Talk Chelsea 07 May, 2021 - 07:00pm

To think that so many of us fans actually even debated selling this guy not so long ago is beyond belief (I have proof of some polls that were not too favourable for the French international). But we have to remember this was when he was going through a period of time suffering constant injuries, and the fact he was aging as well created a valid question, do you cash in on him while you can?

Well we all unanimously agree on the answer to that stupid question now, right? No, you don’t. Cashing in on Kante is like selling a mansion in favour of a shed. You don’t even contemplate it.

When they say that having Kante on the pitch is like having two players although it is factually incorrect and impossible, it genuinely IS like having an extra player on the pitch – Kante can outrun anyone and he can be defending in our 18-yard box one second, then literally 5 seconds later be helping Chelsea create a goal at the other end. He really IS two players, it isn’t even ‘like’ having two players, it IS having two players.

Last night he bossed Real Madrid again and I couldn’t care less what Toni Kroos claims about Chelsea not having any players that cause him nightmares, this guy was waking up sweating with Kante’s face in his eyes at least three times last night, I guarantee it.

Kante is not only a robot, he is a world-class football playing robot and one of a kind. Will we ever see a player like Kante again? I doubt that. How do you ever even think about replacing a player like Kante? That is something that scares me to death!

I have never known a football player with his engine, he can literally run all day and would not be tired. Again, that is not even an exaggeration.

N’Golo, you hero, you absolute humble hero. This man left Stamford Bridge in a Mini last night, he doesn’t care for the flash cars, he doesn’t want the praise, he just wants to play football for a living and go about his day. What a guy.

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Toni Kroos replies to Mason Mount’s losing sleep comments

Chelsea News 07 May, 2021 - 07:00pm

Chelsea outplayed Real Madrid over two legs in the Champions League semi finals to reach the final over the last couple of weeks, and that is no exaggeration.

I think it is safe to say that Real Madrid haven’t exactly taken the defeat very well, after all, Chelsea absolutely were the underdogs in this tie before kick off.

Their experienced midfielder Toni Kroos was made to look nothing more than average by the likes of N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, and Mason Mount over the two legs, and it had his words before the match coming back to bite him.

He basically said that Chelsea have not had any players that make him lose sleep over the last 15 years. Although he is clearly already forgetting about Didier Drogba and co in 2012!

Mason Mount picked up on those comments after the 2-0 win this week, and Kroos should have kept his mouth shut but what a surprise he couldn’t!

Still sleeping ok. But well done yesterday. congrats. Good luck in your first CL final. https://t.co/XTbtIkCXys

— Toni Kroos (@ToniKroos) May 6, 2021

© 2016 Chelsea News. All rights reserved.

Thomas Tuchel "can't wait" for Chelsea's clash with Leicester City

Football.London 07 May, 2021 - 07:00pm

Approximately 8000 spectators will be in attendance at Chelsea’s home ground for the game after details of ticketing was announced on Friday morning for what could be a pivotal game in the race for the top four.

Hundreds of fans lined the Fulham Road on Wednesday night to greet the Blues players as they arrived for the Champions League semi final second leg against Real Madrid and it had the desired effect as Chelsea beat the La Liga giants 2-0 to secure a 3-1 aggregate victory and a spot in the final later this month against Manchester City.

Stamford Bridge has not been full of fans for more than a year amid the coronavirus pandemic but stage three of the release from lockdown in England will see the returns of fans to top flight stadiums.

Chelsea did have supporters in attendance for the victory over Leeds late last year but it was no more than that after London was plunged back into lockdown with the now defunct tier system

Fans have been craving to return to their usual Saturday/Sunday/Wednesday haunts for the past year, with games being played behind closed doors since Project Restart in June last year apart from the very brief spell last December.

After Chelsea announced details for fans wanting to return to SW6 later this month, more of which you can read here, Tuchel was asked about their return as he has yet to manage in front of them.

The German did share a brief moment with some supporters who remained at Stamford Bridge after the Real game to celebrate, hanging out of his car window and pumping his fists in the air a few times.

“I can't wait,” Tuchel said of the Leicester game.

“It's actually so sad we've played so long without spectators that we've almost got used to it. We don't want to get used to it because it changes the game completely. These are not just words, you simply can't compare.

"With the guys waiting for us before and after the Madrid game, we were instantly so excited and so, so happy for them. We could feel the change of energy by having our supporters around, so it's big news.

"We are absolutely excited to play with spectators at Wembley, after that at Stamford Bridge, then Aston Villa, and hopefully Istanbul.

“This is a step back to normality and I hope everyone stays safe in these matches because that is the most important.

“We will never complain but we can say as a fact that without the supporters it's not the same game."

Hazard and Real Madrid still have La Liga to play for, if they can get over his laughter

ESPN 07 May, 2021 - 11:18am

Eden Hazard has friends at Chelsea, the monster. By the end of Wednesday night, it was hard to avoid the conclusion that what most hurt wasn't that Real Madrid had been knocked out of the Champions League, or even that they had been defeated so completely, the fact that they had still been in it with five minutes to go something of a miracle and the 3-1 scoreline a small mercy, but the suspicion that it didn't hurt their No. 7 at all. That -- and forget what he did during the game, which was not much -- soon after it he smiled. Laughed, in fact.

You will have seen the video by now. Hazard talking to Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy on the Stamford Bridge pitch, cracking up in conversation with them not long after Real lost. You may well have seen the video from Spanish TV show "El Chiringuito" too, the editorial that eviscerated him. In it, with dark brooding music, a shadow cast heavy across the set and melodramatic delivery with...

... line, each more furious and affected than the last, the show's director and presenter -- judge, jury and executioner -- tears into Hazard almost as much as Chelsea had torn into Madrid.

The whole of Madrid, that is: not just Hazard. Wednesday night's semifinal second leg, just in case you didn't see it, wasn't the story of one man's giggling, can't-be-bothered, wilful failure against his former team; it was that all of them fell a long way short, every Madrid player except Thibaut Courtois. But here, it is Hazard. Here, there and everywhere, the video going viral, which is of course what they wanted.

It's hard not to think of the final scene of "Homer Badman," when the Simpson family are watching trashy TV show "Rock Bottom." The show has admitted that Homer is innocent of the accusations made against him after hours of hounding him, so it turns its attention to Groundskeeper Willie instead, trumping up the charged against him, building towards another flimsy moral panic.

"That man is sick!" Homer says, when he sees Willy dramatized on screen. When Marge insists that hang on, he's the one that saved you, Homer replies "but listen to the music! He's evil!"

In the editorial (or is it a sermon?), Hazard is accused of laughing. Not with his friends, but at Madrid. In a monologue punctuated with heavy sighs, he is accused of spending "two years taking the piss out of Madridisimo." Of costing €100 million and being overweight, of getting a chance he didn't deserve. Of being, God dammit, "another Bale". There's a touch of the Danny De Vito: "Is something funny?" There was a touch of the TV evangelist too, building to a shouting crescendo.

"Hazard," Josep Pedrerol says, gavel coming down, guillotine falling, "cannot continue a minute longer at Real Madrid."

So, is there something funny to it all? Well, yes... and no. On one level, this was just "El Chiringuito" doing what "El Chiringuito" does: a shouty, silly show, a mass debate where it's all over-the-top faux anger, confrontation and posturing, like a footballing Wrestlemania. It's a successful model imported from Spain's salsa rosa gossip shows, where the lives of assorted "celebrities" of varying degrees of fame and talent are endlessly argued over, tiny morsels turned into huge scavenging feasts. It would be easy to dismiss "El Chiringuito." It's tempting, too; it might be sensible to ignore it, or just laugh at it. To insist that it, like what Hazard did on Wednesday night, doesn't really matter.

But it kind of does. All of it. And there is more to it. This doesn't happen in a vacuum, and it doesn't happen for no reason at all even though it can feel like it. The show often does reflect the attitude and voice of many Madrid fans, the polarisation of football fans and the willingness to see heroes and villains; and it often does reflect the voice and attitude of the Madrid president, with whom the director and presenter is close.

There is a reason that this is where Florentino Perez appeared a couple of weeks ago, and it's not because it was the perfect place to launch the super league project, as was soon made embarrassingly clear. And it is no coincidence, either, that today reports from sources close to Perez say Madrid will now listen to offers for Hazard, if there are any. They are keen to see him go, and when that happens, things like this tend to happen too: machinery moves into gear, the proverbial hounds are released.

That is something Hazard might be aware of. If not, it is something his Madrid teammates -- many of them conscious of what lies beneath, suspicious minds seeing hidden interests, sometimes even when there are none -- will probably tell him.

It probably will not, and should not, be the only thing they tell him, because here's the thing: context matters. Attitude does too, and performance definitely does. And while it might be superficial, something cynically sought by some and innocently overlooked by others, player behaviour matters. Their gestures really are important. Appearances matter.

Put simply: it's a good idea to be polite and play to the gallery sometimes. Public perception plays a big part, conditioning much of what comes with it. Caesar's wife must not just be honourable but appear so, as the phrase goes. Players have to care and look like they care, try and be seen to be trying.

Strip it down and the accusation being levelled at Hazard is that he has friends and dares to like being with them, the criminal. That he is shameless enough to smile and laugh when he is reunited with mates he hadn't seen for a while and whom he misses. It's absurd, and yet what he did was unwise. Not evil nor a heinous crime, but not a great idea. Naive, maybe. Perhaps a little insensitive too, however overly sensitive some Madrid fans were. Full-time was a time to be studiously solemn, those conversations better off happening out of sight. That is a sorry state of affairs, but it is one worth keeping in mind.

That guest was the father of Thibaut Courtois, and he had a point. Hazard realised that, too. At 8:30 on Thursday evening, he published an apology. He hadn't intended to upset anyone, he said -- and there's no reason to think he had -- and he does care, he insisted. "I came here to win," he said.

On Wednesday, he didn't. And that's the other part of it, the context within which this all happened and within which everyone reacted. Defeat and disappointment. And, yes, interest too. Few players would have simply got away with what Hazard did after the game, but most would have got away with it or been more readily forgiven. Above all, though, it's about players who are seen to care and who had contributed. And the truth is that, since he arrived at Madrid the most expensive player they have ever signed, Hazard hasn't.

Hazard says he came to win things, and he could still help them do that. There are four games left in the tightest title race for years, with Spain's top four all facing each other this weekend: Barcelona (third place, 74 points) vs. Atletico Madrid (first place, 76 points), Real Madrid (second place, 74 points) vs. Sevilla (fourth place, 70 points). Do that and maybe a pardon will follow. He has a lot of making up to do after two years of not doing much.

Mostly it's down to bad luck: he has had five injuries and missed almost 400 days. There is a question about whose fault, if there is any fault, it is. "Something is happening. I can't explain these things anymore," manager Zinedine Zidane said last time Hazard got injured.

There is something a bit perverse and in fact pretty cruel, almost grotesque, about the way that players who get injured are blamed for their misfortune -- as if they want to be in pain, as if they like going under the knife, as if they want to spend months rehabilitating alone, isolated from the rest, as if they just can't be trusted, as if it hurts everyone else more than it hurts them. As if casting them aside is an effective way of getting the best out of them, anyway.

But at the same time, the fact that patience wears thin is natural enough; patience is a virtue for which most football clubs don't have the time. In Hazard's first season, it was actually remarkable how little focus there was on him, perhaps because of the pandemic, perhaps because Madrid went on and won the league without him. Compare the criticism of him to what Antoine Griezmann faced at Barcelona, for example, and it's minuscule. Hazard scored once. Griezmann scored 15 times.

This season, though, Hazard has come more sharply into focus. There's something cumulative about that, the sense that this is a never-ending drift, day after day. And it's not just the lack of a contribution -- he has scored three goals all season -- but more the suspicion that he has not always done all he could, however unjust that assumption might be. The sense that Zidane has always held a place in the team for him, to the detriment of others, conditioning everything, the message conveyed a mistaken one that breaks meritocracy.

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Last season against Manchester City, this season against Chelsea: both times, Hazard was returning from injury, not fully ready. Both times he was put straight back in the team as much for his sake as theirs, with Zidane even saying something about helping him recover; both times, Madrid went out and he did nothing. It's absurd to ever suggest that a player doesn't want to play well, but it's easy to see a manager's loyalty as unreciprocated. (And, incidentally, the idea that Zidane and Hazard come almost as a package, held at the top of the club, is not an insignificant one as the politics play out).

And all the more so when there are doubts about Hazard's commitment, the willingness to do everything he can to perform. This is the man who admitted that he came back from the summer 5 kilos overweight, saying "when I'm on holiday, I'm on holiday." Maybe they have been spoiled with Cristiano Ronaldo, a man as obsessive as he is missed.

Filipe Luis tells the story of Hazard at Chelsea. "Eden's the best I've played with," he told The Guardian. "He's up there with Messi, winning games alone. He didn't run to defend much, didn't train well, and five minutes before games he'd be playing Mario Kart in the dressing room. He trained and warmed up without tying his laces. But he'd go out and no one could take the ball. He'd dribble past three or four. If opponents got too close, he'd just pull away, so powerful.

"Watching him enjoy football [was] sweet. So intelligent: one-two, combine, go alone; assist, score, everything. Maybe he lacks the ambition to say 'I'll be the world's best,' because he could be."

All that reads like a eulogy, and what remains might in fact be the doubts about ambition. It is Eden Hazard's personality, and no-one would have minded much had it come with those performances at Chelsea, when he was no different a person to how he is now, and likable for it. But it didn't, and they do. On Wednesday especially, when he also became a handy diversion from deeper problems, when he made perhaps his greatest contribution since coming to Real Madrid: he has given them someone to blame.

Real Madrid star Toni Kroos responds to Mason Mount's post-match dig

101 Great Goals 06 May, 2021 - 03:23pm

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has taken to social media this evening, to provide a response to the less than subtle jibe aimed in his direction by Mason Mount on Wednesday night.

Kroos and Mount of course faced off a little over 24 hours ago, in a Champions League semi-final showdown.

Chelsea welcomed Real to Stamford Bridge, with a spot in European club football’s grandest stage on the line.

The hosts headed into proceedings boasting the advantage – albeit a slender one – after bagging an away goal en route to a 1-1 stalemate in Madrid last week.

And, when all was said and done on Wednesday night, it was Chelsea who indeed went on to emerge victorious from the tie.

Timo Werner opened the game’s scoring inside the half-hour mark, before Mason Mount made sure of the Pensioners’ first Champions League finale berth since 2012, with a 2nd five minutes from time:

After so many wasted opportunities, Chelsea FINALLY have their second goal of the night!

They’re so close to Istanbul now! 🙏 pic.twitter.com/U6skxXPCMv

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 5, 2021

One of Chelsea’s stars, though, was not quite satisfied with his side’s eventual victory.

The player in question came in the form of Mason Mount, who, during an interview with CBS Sports following the full-time whistle at Stamford Bridge, opted to aim a dig at Real counterpart Toni Kroos.

After the German international revealed that not a single member of Thomas Tuchel’s squad would cause him to ‘lose sleep’, Mount hit back with the following:

And as outlined above, on Thursday evening, Kroos has issued a response of his own, assuring that he is ‘still sleeping ok’, albeit whilst wishing Mount good luck in his debut Champions League final appearance:

Still sleeping ok. But well done yesterday. congrats. Good luck in your first CL final. https://t.co/XTbtIkCXys

— Toni Kroos (@ToniKroos) May 6, 2021

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Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic voices frustration over bit-part role

Daily Mail 06 May, 2021 - 01:52pm

By Simon Jones for MailOnline

Christian Pulisic has given a clear indication of his heightened frustration at playing a bit-part role under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea.

The 22-year-old was expected to start against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi final on Wednesday after his impressive first leg performance and goal. 

However, he cut a disgruntled figure as Tuchel instead opted to begin with Kai Havertz and Pulisic was given the last 25 minutes from the bench.

Chelsea star Christian Pulisic was 'very frustrated' with Thomas Tuchel’s decision

Pulisic still managed to make an impact as, after Chelsea missed a number of chances, he played a decisive role in setting up Mason Mount for his side’s crucial second in the 2-0 win.

Tuchel acknowledged afterwards that his selection had not gone down well with Pulisic but applauded the USA international for his performance.

‘Christian got a bad message for him today,’ Tuchel said. ‘It was a very tough decision but I’m very happy that Christian turned his anger around into positive energy for the team, helped the team and assisted the decisive goal. So big credit to him.’

Though Tuchel explained he had chosen Havertz for his extra height at set pieces, former Chelsea midfielder and TV pundit Joe Cole said Pulisic would be justifiably ‘raging’ with the coach’s decision and the £58million signing from Borussia Dortmund hinted as much afterwards.

Pulisic came off the bench to set up Mason Mount for the second goal against Real Madrid

‘Very frustrated. Yeah not much else to say,’ said Pulisic. ‘I wanted to play from the beginning as I always do.

‘I’ve had to continue to prove myself over and over again. But as always I just reach out to God and He gives me strength. With that behind me nothing can stop me really.’

It is clear though that the relationship between Tuchel and Pulisic has become strained. Indeed, Wednesday’s twist follows on the heels of Pulisic visibly snubbing Tuchel during his goal celebrations with the bench in the first leg in Madrid.

While Tuchel continues to collect impressive results since his arrival, it is clear there will be some tough decisions ahead as he re-shapes the squad to his taste in the summer.

The 22-year-old grabbed a vital away goal in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final

Pulisic is obviously reluctant to continue as an impact sub and wants to be at a club where the coach has faith in him from the start.

Chelsea beat competition from rival Premier League sides plus ones abroad to sign Pulisic in 2019 and it would be no surprise to learn some of those clubs are monitoring his situation now. Impressed by his performances over the semi final, Real Madrid will be among those discussing Pulisic when they attempt their summer rebuild.

For his part, Tuchel wants to add another centre forward with Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku discussed while Raphael Varane of Real Madrid is among those favoured for central defence. However to fund such expensive signings, several fringe players will have to be sold in what could prove a difficult market.

Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud and Hakim Ziyech are among those already considering moves away and Pulisic could yet be among them.

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The Real Madrid gene

MARCA.com 06 May, 2021 - 08:15am

It so happens that the vast majority of results in sport, as in life, are defeats. It is true that there are some clubs or sportsmen and women who lose less than others, and that makes them, in the eyes of witnesses, winners. It happens with Real Madrid, or with Rafa Nadal, to give just two examples. But both lose more than they win, an absolutely objective reality. Because defeat always wins, as it has in its favour the weight of statistics, of probability, of mathematics.

What defeat does admit are nuances. No Real Madrid fan has torn their hair out over Stamford Bridge. Not because of the clear superiority of Chelsea, the very deserved finalists, but because of the overall perspective of Real Madrid's campaign, a moving exercise in resistance that lasted beyond the limits of what is reasonable in Europe and that still going in LaLiga Santander. Something similar happened with the basketball team, which forced its survival to the frontier of prowess. Both fell because they were up against stronger opponents, but they demonstrated the competitive essence associated with the badge, overcoming all sorts of setbacks (injuries, COVID, players leaving mid-season), without forgetting one undeniable factor: their opponents weathered the abyss of the pandemic-enforced crisis better than Real Madrid.

In any case, Zinedine Zidane's squad (and Pablo Laso's) has refreshed their prestige; they have lived up to the club's historic demands, to that gene that seems to be transmitted by osmosis from the shirt to the skin of those who wear it. A semi-final finish is no minor achievement (ask around), and even more so given the circumstances (no need to list them here). It is still a defeat, true. But let's not forget that accumulating defeats is the only possible way to reach, one day, the final victory.

Real Madrid

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