It was a pleasant feeling when the news of the return of Eden Hazard in a Real Madrid shirt dominated in social media. But as soon as he started playing for the Los Blancos, they seem to have lost the fantastic rhythm, which not only took them to the top of La Liga table but also, brought back the confidence, which was shattered after last season. Then, Hazard left the field injured again, with little or no contribution so far this season. Without a doubt, his signing seems to be a total waste for Real Madrid.
They were saying that if they sign Neymar for Real Madrid then his injuries would suffer the team. Now what is Eden Hazard giving @realmadriden? The season is coming to an end and his contributions have been nothing. Being a Real follower, I think Real must sell him this summer.
— Faisal Caesar (@faisalyorker1) February 23, 2020
After the surviving the scare from Celta Vigo, the Los Blancos were shocked by Levante. From nowhere, problems are appearing in Santiago Bernabeu. Karim Benzema missed clear cut chances. The watertight defence looked shaky. The midfield lacked synchronicity.
Offensively Real looked the better side until they reached the final third.
Isco looked in a good nick in the first-half. He released Benzema into a shooting position in the box twice and then found Carvajal on a dink through-ball in the box. He kept Levante at bay with his movement and depth touches. Astonishingly, the frontline of Real Madrid, especially the two attackers, Benzema and Hazard remained underwhelming.
Levante 1 – 0 Real Madrid
Madrid lost after Hazard returned
One day we will all sit down in @KNairabet Show to talk about Hazard's defection to Madrid
The story of how he came from National leader in Chelsea to become ordinary councilor.
— Ebube The Statesman (@akaebube) February 22, 2020
Real Madrid have made 12 total shots against Levante in the first half, more than any other single game away from home at the half time in all competitions this season, levelled with Barcelona. But in the final third, their finishing undermined them time and again. Moreover, Real Madrid have made 33 crosses vs Levante, more than any other single game away from home in all competitions this season.
Real Madrid did create spaces to work during transition, and on others, Levante blocked the half-spaces and central channels while doing well to make sure Zidane’s men don’t find space in the final third. But Real created enough to win, doing everything they could apart from being lethal in front of goal.
I’m just depressed over how Real Madrid don’t have a player who can bang in 40 goals a season anymore ?
— N (@asensiones) February 22, 2020
Levante defended as if their lives depended on it, and the key to successfully keeping Madrid out were Fernandez and the two centre-backs in front of him.
While the goalkeeper made 7 saves, Bruno Gonzalez and Sergio Postigo made 20 clearances between them, the former also making three successful tackles, a figure bettered by only Nikola Vukcevic.
Levante tested Real Madrid’s shaky defence despite their pressing being a miss-or-hit. In one moment of the match, where Real Madrid’s defence fell apart during transitions, Roger Marti ignored a completely wide-open player in the box and opted to shoot right at Courtois rather than passing – otherwise, it could have been the opener for Levante.
But, Levante eventually punished Real Madrid’s defence.
Jose Luis Morales kept his run onside and sent a bullet over Courtois, who doesn’t even put a hand up to stop that. And with that strike, Morales has ended his second-worst streak without scoring in La Liga – 21 games in a row since August 2019 against Real Valladolid.
We're pissed off, but we can't allow our heads to drop. We have to reset now and tomorrow push harder than ever before for a very important week. We're counting on you.#HalaMadrid https://t.co/I50gYI3qef
— Sergio Ramos (@SergioRamos) February 22, 2020
Paco López is the first La Liga manager to have won against Real Madrid and Barcelona both at home in a single season since Unai Emery for Sevilla in the 2015-16 season.
While Barcelona crushed Eibar, the defeat of Real Madrid would not satisfy the fans at all. With the Champions League and El Clasico knocking at the doors, Zinedine Zidane needs to stick to those players who helped the Los Blancos to script a rosy few months.