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Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid begin their respective Champions League campaigns with huge tests against Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus in the pick of Wednesday's action.

Atletico will be smarting from last season's 3-2 aggregate defeat to Juve in the round of 16, when Cristiano Ronaldo – a consistent nemesis of theirs during his time in LaLiga – netted a hat-trick in a 3-0 second-leg win to see the Old Lady into the quarter-finals.

Madrid get started away to PSG, who will be aiming to continue their fine run at home in the group stage despite being without Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani.

Last term's beaten finalists Tottenham, Premier League champions Manchester City and German giants Bayern Munich are also in action.

Below, we have highlighted the key data ahead of Wednesday's contests.

Club Brugge v Galatasaray

4 - After losing their first two matches in the 2018-19 Champions League, Club Brugge remained undefeated in their final four (W1 D3) – should they avoid a loss in this match, it will be the best unbeaten run by a Belgian side in the competition took on its current format in 1992.

12 - Galatasaray's new striker Radamel Falcao has scored 12 goals in the Champions League, just one goal off the record by a Colombian player in the competition: Jackson Martinez with 13.

 

Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid

21- PSG are unbeaten in 21 Champions League home games in the group stage (W15 D6), not losing since December 2004 against CSKA Moscow (1-3). 

1.97 - Real Madrid have averaged the most goals per game (2.13) in Champions League history. PSG are third on 1.97, with Barcelona the only club separating them in the rankings (2.02).

Olympiacos v Tottenham

8 - Olympiacos are winless in eight Champions League matches (D1 L7) since a 2-1 win against Dinamo Zagreb in November 2015. It is their joint-longest winless run in the competition alongside a streak that ended in October 2003.

50 - Mauricio Pochettino's will oversee his 50th European game as manager of Spurs on Wednesday. Only Bill Nicholson (55) has presided over more for the club.

 

Bayern Munich v Red Star Belgrade

36 - Robert Lewandowski has scored 36 goals in just 52 Champions League appearances for Bayern – only Thomas Muller has scored more for the club in the competition (42 goals in 105 games).

17 -  Red Star conceded more goals in the group stage of the 2018-19 Champions League than any other team (17).

Dinamo Zagreb v Atalanta

11 - Dinamo Zagreb have lost their last 11 consecutive Champions League matches, their joint-worst run in the competition. Only Anderlecht have lost 12 successive matches in Europe's elite competition, that run coming between December 2003 and November 2005.

3 - Just three of the nine Italian clubs to have participated in the Champions League before Atalanta have won their opening match in the competition: AC Milan in 1992, Juventus in 1995 and Udinese in 2005.

 

Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City

79 - Excluding own goals, 79 of Shakhtar's 124 Champions League goals have been scored by Brazilians (64 per cent) – only Barcelona (85) have seen more goals scored by Brazilians than Shakhtar, while Braga (11-12 – 92%) are the only team to have had a higher proportion of goals scored by players from Brazil.

124 - Gabriel Jesus scored a hat-trick for City in their last meeting against Shakhtar in November last year, inspiring a 6-0 win. Of the 73 Brazilians to have scored four or more goals in the Champions League, Jesus has the best minutes-per-goal (124) ratio.

Atletico Madrid v Juventus

54 - Atletico will be competing in their first Champions League season without Antoine Griezmann since 2013-14. He scored or assisted 54 per cent of their goals in the competitions (19 goals, 7 assists) between September 2015 and March 2019 before leaving this year for Barcelona.

25 - Juventus star Ronaldo has scored 25 goals in his career against Atletico, having tormented them regularly in derbies with Madrid and netted a hat-trick last term for the Bianconeri. Only against Sevilla (27) has he scored more in all competitions.

 

Bayer Leverkusen v Lokomotiv Moscow

0 - Bayer Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz has yet to win a Champions League game as a manager (D2 L4, with Dortmund). Each of Leverkusen's past four managers have failed to win their first Champions League match in charge.

7 - Lokomotiv forward Jefferson Farfan will be looking to score in his seventh different Champions League campaign (2004-05, 2005-06, 2007-08, 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2018-19). The only Peruvian to have scored in more seasons is Claudio Pizarro (eight).

There could be a fight to prise Fabian Ruiz from Napoli.

Fabian has established himself as one of Europe's premier midfielders and the Spaniard is reportedly attracting interest.

Two LaLiga giants and the Champions League holders are said to be eyeing Fabian.

 

TOP STORY - THREE-WAY BATTLE FOR FABIAN

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Liverpool are chasing Napoli star Fabian Ruiz, according to the Daily Mail.

Fabian swapped Real Betis for Napoli in 2018 and the Spain international has quickly become one of Europe's most sought-after midfielders.

Now three of the biggest clubs in the world are reportedly eyeing the 23-year-old.

ROUND-UP

- The Sun reports Manchester United are preparing a January move for Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson. The Red Devils have limited options up front following the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez. Wilson, who has already scored three goals this season, fits the bill at Old Trafford as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer eyes talented English players.

Juventus, Liverpool and Manchester City are all interested in Real Madrid playmaker Isco, claims Calciomercato.

Barcelona are set to offer 16-year-old sensation Ansu Fati a new five-year deal to fend off interest from European rivals, claims the Daily Mail.

- League One side Southend United want to hire former Celtic, Barca and Manchester United striker Henrik Larsson as their manager, says the Daily Mail. Southend are second bottom in the league after eight games, while Larsson was last in charge of Helsingborg before quitting in August.

- According to Globo Esporte, Flamengo are negotiating to bring Fredy Guarin to the club. The 33-year-old former Inter midfielder is a free agent after leaving Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has told his players to show their aggressive streak against Real Madrid and banish the memories of their soft exit from last season's Champions League 

PSG were knocked out in the last 16 of the competition on away goals last season after a timid 3-1 home defeat to Manchester United having won the first leg of the tie 2-0 at Old Trafford.

Tuchel's side kick off their 2019-2020 campaign with the German eager for his players to show they have learned from the pain of that exit.

"It was a very long and hard phase after the defeat," Tuchel said. "We were not satisfied at all, but it is also necessary to forget and look forward. 

"I do not want to be too passive. Real Madrid will have the ball too. They are very strong, brave, they have won many times in the Champions League.

"It's a tough match, it's also a great match. I want to be aggressive and play fast.

"We had a lot of changes, with new players. We have gained in personality and experience. We have a good team. It's time to trust and look forward. 

"This competition is very difficult and we will see tomorrow already if we are able to give all the energy needed to fight 90 minutes with our supporters at our side."

 

Neymar returned to PSG's side at the weekend and scored a dramatic late winner against Strasbourg despite being booed by swathes of home supporters at the Parc des Princes.

Tuchel claimed there were never any issues between himself and the player. The Brazil forward is banned for the game against Madrid, one of the clubs linked with him in the last transfer window. 

"Between me and Ney, everything is clear," Tuchel added. “He is our player. There has never been a problem between me and my player."

Madrid are missing the experienced presence of defenders Sergio Ramos and Marcelo, who are suspended and injured respectively, at the back.

Los Blancos centre-back Raphael Varane believes whoever features for Zinedine Zidane's side will be able to handle the pressure of a high-intensity occasion.

"Experience is always a plus, but it's not everything," Varane said. "We know the difficulty. We know how to approach it. 

“We will try to be as serene as possible and show application in what we will do. We come with the ambition to win.

"You have to be efficient, kill matches when you have the opportunity. It is played on small details at the highest level. That's why it's so demanding. It requires concentration at all times."

Keeping Neymar amid interest from Barcelona was Paris Saint-Germain's most important piece of business in the transfer window, according to his team-mate Marco Verratti.

Brazil star Neymar was strongly linked with a return to Barca, whom he left two years ago in a world-record €222million move.

The two clubs held meetings and Barca confirmed their interest in the forward, but their reported offer of €130m plus Ivan Rakitic, Jean-Clair Todibo and Ousmane Dembele – the latter apparently having been offered on loan – fell short when the former Borussia Dortmund winger rejected a proposed switch.

As such, many consider PSG's Champions League chances to be greater, and although suspension rules him out of their first two games of the European campaign, Verratti believes retaining Neymar's services was the best bit of recruitment work the club did in the transfer window.

"We need players like Neymar or Kylian [Mbappe], who are a bit above everyone else," Verratti told reporters.

"Neymar had a difficult time with off-field moments that have somewhat destabilised him, but when he learned that he was staying, I saw him with a smile as always.

"He loves football, he is a player who will help us a lot. We are lucky to have him in Paris, we must enjoy him. I know the fans have not forgotten [what happened], but I hope Neymar will do everything [to forget the drama] and we will celebrate all this together at the end of the season.

"In football, there are always some nice moments and I hope that it will end well. Neymar will give 110 per cent.

"Neymar is perhaps the most important player we recruited. There are more favoured teams than us, but we will give everything.

"If we go out, it'll because the opponents are better than us, but I do not want to go out and have regrets like last year [against Manchester United]."

Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani will all miss PSG's Group A opener against Real Madrid on Wednesday, meaning Mauro Icardi could lead the line at the Parc des Princes.

The Argentina forward featured as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Strasbourg on Saturday and, although Verratti accepts he is still integrating, he is confident Icardi will prove his worth.

"It takes a little more time to get to know everyone, but it's easy to play with him," Verratti said of the on-loan Inter forward.

"He can score at any time. He can help us, he knows how to play with his team-mates and we are happy.

"We have to wait a bit to see the real Icardi. He has been out for a long time, but he is a magnificent player."

Eden Hazard is ready to start Wednesday's Champions League clash against Paris Saint-Germain, according to Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane.

The Belgium international, who joined Madrid from Chelsea in June, has only recently returned to training following a thigh injury and made his debut in Saturday's LaLiga victory over Levante as a second-half substitute.

The Spanish giants kick off their campaign to win a 14th Champions League title at PSG and Zidane is confident Hazard will feature from the start.

"You will see how we're going to play tomorrow, but Hazard is ready to play and ready to start," he told a media conference. "We've had some good training sessions recently and he's ready."

Zidane was quick to praise French striker Karim Benzema following PSG boss Thomas Tuchel's assertion that he is "fantastic and undervalued".

"It hasn't been easy for him but he's always showed the kind of player he is," he added. "He's a goalscorer but that's not the most important thing in football.

"He's a team player and that's what I like the most. I think he's fantastic, just like Tuchel said. I think the same way."

James Rodriguez played the full 90 minutes of the weekend win over Levante, teeing up Benzema for Los Blancos' second goal.

Zidane would not be drawn on whether he would start against the Ligue 1 champions, but he did praise the Colombia international's versatility.

"We'll see, because he can play everywhere, but it's true that it is easier for him to play up front," he said. "It's important for him to be in good form and he is. His position on the field can change because he is a quality player."

Madrid and PSG are red-hot favourites to progress from Group A, which also includes Club Brugge and Galatasaray, with Zidane suggesting the French champions have enough quality to go all the way.

"PSG is also a favourite in the Champions League because they are a great team," he said. "They are always dangerous although sometimes they do not get the expected results.

"But it is a team that is dangerous, which they show every weekend. With [Edinson] Cavani, [Kylian] Mbappe and Neymar they are better, but they are a team that is at a very high level even without those three."

Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani are set to miss Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League meeting with Real Madrid on Wednesday.

The Ligue 1 champions confirmed on Monday that the attacking duo are not likely to resume first-team training until the end of this week.

Neither player has featured since suffering muscle strains in the 4-0 defeat of Toulouse last month.

It means Neymar, who scored on his return to the first team on Saturday after being left out amid the uncertainty over his future during the transfer window, and Mauro Icardi will likely lead the line at Parc des Princes.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is the other option at head coach Thomas Tuchel's disposal.

Julian Draxler, Thilo Kehrer and Colin Dagba will also miss the visit of Zinedine Zidane's side as they continue to recover from injury problems.

Marcelo is a major doubt for Real Madrid's Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain after injuring his neck.

The Brazil international appeared to sustain the issue during the first half of Saturday's 3-2 win against Levante after landing awkwardly.

He completed the full 90 minutes but is now expected to miss Wednesday's Group A opener with PSG at the Parc des Princes.

Madrid, who confirmed the injury blow on Monday, have suffered a number of fitness setbacks in the opening weeks of the campaign, with the likes of Isco, Marco Asensio and Luka Modric also on the sidelines.

Zinedine Zidane is already without skipper Sergio Ramos and fellow defender Nacho Fernandez for the trip to Paris due to suspensions carried over from last season.

Cristiano Ronaldo said he felt "embarrassed" after being accused of rape.

Kathryn Mayorga claimed Ronaldo raped her in a hotel room in Las Vegas 10 years ago, with German publication Der Spiegel reporting the story last October.

Ronaldo repeatedly denied the accusation and the Clark County District Attorney's Office announced in July that the Juventus striker would not face charges as they could not "be proven beyond a reasonable doubt".

According to Der Spiegel, Mayorga first made a complaint of sexual assault in 2009 and subsequently reached an out-of-court settlement with Ronaldo. It was claimed by the magazine she was paid $375,000 as part of a privacy agreement, preventing her from going public with the allegations.

The Portuguese, speaking to Piers Morgan in an interview to be aired on ITV on Tuesday, has spoken for the first time about the impact the case has had on his family life.

"They play with your dignity. It's hard," said Ronaldo.

"You have a girlfriend, you have a family, you have kids. When they play with your honesty, it's bad, it's hard.

"I remember one day I was at home in the living room with my girlfriend watching the television, to see the news and they talk about Cristiano Ronaldo and this and that, I listened to my kids coming down the stairs and I changed the channel because I was embarrassed.

"I felt embarrassed, I just changed the channel for Cristiano Jr not to see that they speak badly about his father, about a very bad case. It makes me feel so bad, to be honest."

If losing your manager was bad enough, imagine losing your star defender?

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and centre-back Virgil van Dijk are attracting some serious interest from across Europe.

Now, LaLiga's powerhouse duo are reportedly eyeing the Reds pair.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA AND MADRID WANT KLOPP AND VAN DIJK

According to AS, LaLiga champions Barcelona and rivals Real Madrid are set to go head-to-head to try to prise Klopp and Van Dijk from Liverpool.

Klopp and Van Dijk helped lead Liverpool to Champions League glory last season, while the Reds are challenging for Premier League honours this term having narrowly missed out to Manchester City in 2018-19.

With Barca head coach Ernesto Valverde and Madrid counterpart Zinedine Zidane under some early pressure in Spain, Klopp and Van Dijk are reportedly "two priorities" for both clubs.

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid have the budget to sign Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe at the end of the season, reports AS. Madrid's financial accounts have been revealed, with €156million in liquid assets at their disposal, as well as €285m in credit. Los Blancos are reportedly planning to persuade the France forward, who is contracted until 2022, not to re-sign in the French capital in an effort to force the club's hand.

Lionel Messi to MLS? There has been talk about Messi and David Beckham's incoming franchise Inter Miami following a report claiming a delegation had been sent out to open negotiations for the Barcelona captain. However, Goal says Messi has had no contact with Beckham's Miami.

Manchester United are trying everything to re-sign star goalkeeper David de Gea. According to the Times, United have offered De Gea a new contract with no wage drop if the Red Devils do not qualify for the Champions League. The Spain international, who is out of contract at the end of the season, reportedly has a four-year deal on the table worth £13.5m a season.

- Staying at Old Trafford, and Record and O Jogo both report United are back in for Benfica star Ruben Dias. The 22-year-old defender was linked to the Manchester club before the transfer window closed. Now reports claim a United official was in attendance for Benfica's 2-0 win over Gil Vicente.

Inter are hoping to sign Mario Gotze from Borussia Dortmund, according to Calciomercato.com. Gotze's contract expires at the end of the season and Antonio Conte's Inter are eyeing the Germany attacker on a free transfer.

- Velez Sarsfield's Thiago Almada is still on the radar of Manchester City, says Record. City had a bid rejected during the transfer window but Pep Guardiola's side remain keen on the 18-year-old.

Real Madrid must rediscover their "hunger for success" after a disappointing 2018-19 season, according to club president Florentino Perez.

Madrid could only manage a third-place finish in LaLiga last season, as three coaches failed to provide a huge amount of inspiration.

Julen Lopetegui lasted until October, before his successor Santiago Solari was dismissed in March to allow for Zinedine Zidane's return, though they were no better under the Frenchman and finished a whopping 19 points adrift of champions Barcelona.

Madrid were also dumped out of the Champions League by Ajax in the quarter-finals having won the title for three consecutive seasons, and Perez is demanding that winning habit returns.

Speaking at Madrid's ordinary general assembly, Perez said: "This is a united club and that's our strength, the strength of 'madridismo' [Real Madrid fandom].

"We have to understand that this team had won everything there was to win in a unique and historic cycle which saw us lift 17 titles in the past nine seasons. An almost inimitable cycle.

"It's been a difficult season and we've all taken stock where necessary, because we need to turn the situation around. Don't be in any doubt that we will do just that.

"By placing great demands on ourselves, we must carry out the transformation required which will allow 'madridistas' [Madrid fans] to dream of new successes and titles.

"Our challenge is to keep winning on an international football stage which is increasingly complicated and competitive. And of course, we need to recover that hunger for success. The desire that has been a crucial factor in enjoying one of the best eras in our history."

Raphael Varane sees Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema as an inspiration due to his longevity at the very top.

Benzema, 31, joined Madrid in 2009 and has gone on to carve out a fine career at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Arguably the most impressive aspect of Benzema's Madrid career has been his ability to rediscover his best form after struggling in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 campaigns, scoring only 16 goals across 61 matches.

Last term he found the net 21 times and he has started the new campaign in solid fashion as well, scoring four goals in as many games, including a brace in Saturday's 3-2 win over Levante.

The Lyon academy product has seemingly established himself as one of the world's elite strikers once again and Varane looks up to him for having such a prolonged career at the top.

Speaking ahead of the release of his Amazon Prime documentary, Varane said: "We [Varane and Benzema] have a good relationship. When I arrived in Madrid, there were two Frenchmen, him and Lassana Diarra.

"We have known each other for eight years now. We've had great moments together. We talk a lot. We talk a lot about football, in good and bad times.

"We have a very good relationship. He has more experience than me, so he can have a role of giving advice on how to approach things at the highest level and how to last that level because he's been at Madrid a while and his longevity is exceptional."

Inter Miami are continuing their stunning bid to sign Lionel Messi.

Messi, 32, can reportedly leave Barcelona at the end of any season for a club outside of Europe despite being contracted at the LaLiga champions until 2021.

Linked with a shock switch to David Beckham's MLS outfit Inter Miami, the club are continuing to make moves for the Argentina superstar.

 

TOP STORY – INTER MIAMI REPRESENTATIVE MEETS MESSI'S DAD

Beckham sent Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough to London for talks with Messi's dad Jorge, according to The Sun.

Inter Miami are set to enter MLS in 2020 and are looking for a big-name signing, with Messi undoubtedly the biggest of the names linked.

It comes just days after Messi said in an interview with Sport that he wanted to remain at Camp Nou for "as long as possible".

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid could chase Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba again in January. Sport Bild reports Real Madrid are planning to use Toni Kroos in an exchange deal to land the France international, who was heavily linked with a switch during the close season.

- Sadio Mane re-signed with Liverpool until 2023 less than 12 months ago, but the European champions are already looking for the attacker to recommit. Liverpool have opened talks with Mane for an extension, according to Soccer Link.

- Seemingly unwanted at Juventus, Mario Mandzukic's future remains a talking point. Qatari club Al-Gharafa have offered €6million net per year to the striker and can meet Juve's demands, according to CalcioMercato, which reports Los Angeles FC are also interested in the Croatian despite the MLS transfer window not reopening until February.

- Inter are already looking to lock down a couple of stars. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A giants want to extend the contracts of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic – until 2022 – and forward Lautaro Martinez until 2024. The report says Inter would also double Martinez's salary from €1.5m to €3m per season amid interest from Barcelona.

- Sam Allardyce is ready for a return to management. The Sun reports the former England boss, who left Everton in May last year, is eyeing a return to Sunderland if the reported takeover by an American consortium is completed.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said Eden Hazard was still some way short of being match fit after a low-key debut in Saturday's victory over Levante.

Hazard made a subdued start to his Madrid career with an appearance as a second-half substitute in a 3-2 win against Levante at the Bernabeu.

The Belgium international, who joined Madrid from Chelsea in June, has only recently returned to training following a thigh injury.

Hazard showed a few nice touches after he came off the bench in the 60th minute, although the 28-year-old forward was far from his sparkling best.

"When he touches the ball he has a lot of versatility," Zidane said.

"But what he needs now is to train more. He has only done four workouts with the team.

"The second half was more complicated for us, especially at the beginning. When the opponent scores a goal after three minutes it is difficult.

"But we got three points. We must not look for excuses, the important thing is to keep the first part of the game and play more minutes as the first part. We can improve a lot, we have to play better."

Real seemed to be cruising victory against Levante after two goals from Karim Benzema and one from Casemiro put them 3-0 up at half-time.

However, Borja Mayoral, on loan at Levante from Madrid, and Gonzalo Melero reduced the deficit.

Madrid’s defensive shakiness almost allowed Levante to take a point and the capital giants have yet to keep a clean sheet this season.

Zidane was full of praise for Benzema, who took his tally to four goals in four LaLiga matches, but acknowledged the need for an improvement from his struggling backline.

"What I can say about Benzema is keep it up," Zidane added. "We are very happy to see Benzema like this. We have seen Karim's ovation from the supporters.

"The defence? It doesn't worry me, although we have to improve and we are going to do it.

"Physically, maybe, the international break could be noticed but I don't want to look for excuses.

"I know we are going to score more goals and concede less."

Eden Hazard helped lift the growing gloom around Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid as he made his long-awaited debut in a 3-2 LaLiga win at home to Levante on Saturday.

Amid driving rain in the Spanish capital - Hazard must have thought he would play in better conditions after leaving London - he made a bright half-hour cameo from the bench.

A thigh injury delayed the Belgium star's debut but after skipping international duty during the break he was finally able to pull on the famous white shirt he has so long desired.

But as Paco Lopez's side battled back from 3-0 down at the break to almost snatch a point, Thibaut Courtois making a fine save to keep out Ruben Vezo's stoppage-time header, it is clear Hazard will not be able to fix all Madrid's problems on his own.

Hazard certainly adds variety to their attacking options. Zidane initially fielded him in a free role ostensibly operating on the left, his favoured position for club and country, filling the void where Cristiano Ronaldo thrived for so long before joining Serie A giants Juventus last year.

That meant the effervescent Vinicius Jr swapped wings and played on the right, with Lucas Vazquez - one of Zidane's favourites - switching inside to a more central role than his usual position on the flank. Hazard did occasionally pop up on the right and also in a more classic number 10 role, so it appears Zidane is going to give the Belgium star plenty of freedom to run his side's attacks.

Hazard replaced Casemiro - the Brazil midfielder having scored the third goal - even though Los Blancos were being dominated in the second half, ex-Madrid striker Borja Mayoral having cut the deficit to 3-1. Toni Kroos therefore dropped back into the shielding role in front of defence and Zidane still has to fit Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric back in after he was ruled out by injury.

Victory was set up by Karim Benzema, who scored twice in the first half to help build Madrid's commanding lead. At 2-0, he had scored nine of Madrid's past 11 LaLiga goals at home, while his tally in the league since the start of the year stands at an impressive 19.

Benzema has often been under-rated by fans and pundits during his time at the Bernabeu, but not by Zidane. Other coaches have failed to fully appreciate his understanding of the game and ability to bring others into play, which will be crucial if Hazard is to shine. 

A perfect example of his all-round skills was provided by Madrid's second goal, with Benzema linking up perfectly with James Rodriguez before slotting a low finish past Aitor Fernandez. Benzema would have had the matchball to show for his efforts had the woodwork not denied him, the crowd later giving him a rousing reception when he was replaced by Luka Jovic.

It was arguably telling that although Hazard, Jovic and Eder Militao all came off the bench, Zidane's starting XI - as long as you include James, who spent the past two years on loan at Bayern Munich - did not include any of the new signings provided by Florentino Perez.

Cracks have already reportedly begun to show in the relationship between Zidane and Perez, who failed to deliver Paul Pogba for his coach, so this was a welcome win, albeit by a far narrower margin that Madrid's vibrant first-half display deserved.

Zidane had made it clear the World Cup winner was a key target, adding mobility and drive to a central midfield department that has grown stale, but Pogba could not be prised away from Manchester United despite telling reporters he was ready for a new challenge.

Hazard will instead be relied on to provide Galactico stardust, but he will hope to have a greater impact than the time-wasting job he carried out in the latter stages as Madrid clung on.

Zidane and Madrid could celebrate a much-needed win after successive LaLiga draws, though, ahead of Wednesday's Champions League trip to Paris Saint-Germain, where Hazard will surely make his first start.

Eden Hazard made his Real Madrid debut as they claimed a nervy 3-2 victory over Levante in LaLiga thanks to two goals from Karim Benzema.

A brace from Benzema, plus a goal from Casemiro, ensured Madrid were firmly in control when 3-0 ahead at the break before a second-half fightback from the visitors.

Borja Mayoral, on loan at Levante from Madrid, pulled a goal back and the home team conceded again when Gonzalo Melero headed in from a corner, with Thibaut Courtois preserving their lead with a fine save in the closing minutes.

Hazard, who joined from Chelsea, was given a warm welcome when introduced on the hour, the Belgium forward having missed his new club's opening three games of the season with a muscle injury.

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