One year ago, Real Madrid started and finished their Spanish Super Cup campaign in style. The fans think that it set the tone for the rest of the season, even though the Los Blancos experienced a fair amount of ups and downs, still managed to lift their 34th La Liga title, and successes in the Spanish Cup or Copa Del Ray always play the role of a motivating factor in taking big strides.

A year later, Real Madrid discover themselves crash out of the Spanish Cup after Raul Garcia scored twice at the Estadio La Rosaleda in Malaga.

A month after earning an early red card against Los Blancos in league action, Raul Garcia got his revenge with a pair of first-half goals. A Karim Benzema score made for a nervy finish, but in the end, the Basque side hung on to punch their ticket to the final, where they will face Barcelona.

Athletic did not allow Madrid to settle and they were in front in the 18th minute when Dani Garcia picked up a sloppy pass from Lucas Vazquez and threaded an incisive ball through for the unmarked Raul Garcia to slot beyond Thibaut Courtois.

Having flashed a venomous shot wide, Garcia seven minutes from time as Athletic continued to keep the Los Blancos at bay with their persistent pressing.

Another sloppy work from Vazquez proved to be costly, the defender bundling over Inigo Martinez and Garcia sending Courtois the wrong way with an expertly taken spot-kick seven minutes before the break.

Iker Muniain ought to have put Athletic three goals to the good when he nodded Oscar De Marcos’ cross wide of the near post from close range.

Asensio twice came close to halving the deficit in quick succession, rattling the near post from close range before striking the crossbar with a rasping long-range drive.

Benzema pulled one back when he was ruled onside following a VAR check after the flagged was initially raised with 17 minutes remaining.

Benzema had the ball in the back of the net again but this time he was ruled to be offside after Courtois denied Asier Villalibre and Sergio Ramos headed just wide.

During the stoppage time,  Unai Nunez, on his way to the ground after a struggle with Marco Asensio, appeared to handle the ball, but play continued until Sergio Ramos went to ground himself in search of a penalty.

VAR started a review and the focus appeared to be on the incident involving Ramos. However, it was the handball incident that was being checked, even though that wasn’t shown on the live broadcast of the game.

Asensio himself commented on the incident after the game.

“It hit him on the hand,” the winger said.

But, after more than a minute, the decision was made that there was no handball and the game continued.

But that was it – Atletico Bilbao advanced.

Zinedine Zidane went with the same starting XI that played to a scoreless draw at Osasuna over the weekend, with Eden Hazard getting another chance up top, while Lucas Vazquez was once again back in for Dani Carvajal at right-back.

Vazquez had a night to forget – he has been very consistent, but last night, his sloppiness cost Real Madrid badly.

But, yet again, Hazard played a match and Real Madrid lost the way. This has been happening quite consistently and cannot be just a mere coincidence. Hazard played more centrally and yet failed to create any sort of impact throughout the match – Eden Hazard failed to complete a single take-on in his 66 minutes on the pitch, lost the possession six times, and missed one big chance.

Yet again, he disturbed the balance – started on the right, whereas he is more of a player suited to the left. Asensio went to the left and it was better, but Hazard is not an all-round genius like the Galaticos that he would suit at the right. Guess what, the balance was lost. He moved centrally and wandered from his position giving the impression, he was a ship without the radar.

Neither could he link up well with others nor could he set the tempo which was always expected since he donned the white shirt.

Zidane consistently says to have patience with Hazard, but in Real Madrid, it is all about the best who comes here and deliver. The slow starts don’t stay for almost two years – rather a player takes little time to rediscover his mojo and when he gains the momentum, he strikes gold. If a player takes this much time like Hazard to regain his momentum then, sorry, he does not belong to Real Madrid.


The sooner Real Madrid realize this, the better it would be for them.

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