Eden Hazard was named in Real Madrid's starting XI for their LaLiga return against Eibar on Sunday.

The Belgium forward has endured a stop-start campaign in the Spanish capital since joining from Chelsea in a big-money move ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Hazard suffered an ankle fracture in November, ruling him out for almost three months, and cracked his fibula shortly after returning.

The latter injury would have left Hazard facing a battle to be fit again before the end of the campaign but the coronavirus-enforced suspension of LaLiga allowed him extra time to recover.

Zinedine Zidane consequently included Hazard in the line-up to face Eibar for a match that is taking place behind closed doors at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium at Madrid's Valdebebas training base.

Rodrygo was given the nod to support Hazard and Karim Benzema in attack over Gareth Bale, Isco, Vinicius Jr and Marco Asensio – the latter not included in the matchday squad despite once again being available after sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury in pre-season.

Marcelo was selected at left-back ahead of Ferland Mendy.

Zidane is taking charge of his 200th Madrid game, the third head coach to reach the milestone with Los Blancos after Miguel Munoz and Vicente del Bosque.

Diego Simeone challenged his Atletico Madrid players to treat every remaining LaLiga match like a final after a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao hindered their top-four hopes.

Throughout his eight-and-a-half-year tenure, Simeone has expanded Spain's big two to a big three – most notably when Atleti pipped Barcelona and Real Madrid to the title in 2013-14.

However, they lie sixth in the standings after Saturday's stalemate at San Mames, with a 13th top-flight draw this season setting an unwanted club record.

In their previous competitive match before the coronavirus shutdown, Atletico sensationally dumped holders Liverpool out of the Champions League to reach the quarter-finals.

However, their participation in next season's competition is far from assured and fourth-placed Real Sociedad could open up a three-point advantage when they host Osasuna later on Sunday.

"The aim for the two teams was to always try to win, we started well in the first 10 minutes, then they positioned themselves better and they won the second ball and they did not let us attack," Simeone told reporters, after watching Diego Costa find a quickfire response to Iker Muniain's opener.

"The goal came, the reaction, after a very well-constructed play.

"In the second half we were closer to that victory. Santiago Arias' chance was the clearest. He could have allow us to take the victory in a stadium where you always have to work to win.

"We have one final left in each match."

Simeone picked two-goal Anfield hero Marcos Llorente in an advanced role behind Costa, leaving striker Alvaro Morata on the bench until the 63rd minute.

Nevertheless, the Atleti boss would not rule out pairing them as a front two in future, with a Wednesday trip to Osasuna in LaLiga on the agenda.

"Seeing what I see and knowing the squad, I interpreted this situation to be like this today," he said.

"Over time, they will be able to coexist. We understood that Marcos could give us some incision like he did, with some sprints, some passes and the dirty work."

Koke believes Atletico Madrid's 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao has done damage to their Champions League qualification prospects.

Diego Costa's 39th-minute goal on the end of a clever Koke pass ensured the first-half advantage Iker Muniain's splendid strike granted Athletic was short-lived.

However, Atleti were unable to affect a full turnaround, with substitute Santiago Arias going closest to a winner when he drew a point-blank save from Unai Simon 10 minutes from time.

It means Los Colcheneros have now won only one of their past 11 away matches in LaLiga, with Sunday's behind-closed-doors encounter at San Mames their 13th draw of the campaign – setting an unwanted club record.

"I believe it was a very strength-based game. It was a tough situation to be in," Koke told LaLiga TV, after the draw moved sixth-placed Atleti level on points with Getafe and Real Sociedad, the latter of whom take on Osasuna in Sunday's late kick-off.

"We didn't take our chances. We have to suffer and accept the draw. We want to be in the Champions League and we need to get hold of the points.

"It's difficult from this position that we're in.

"They were better placed than us all over the pitch. We managed to change things after the first goal and a couple of minutes after found the equaliser.

"Santi had the chance at the end to get us the win."

Ex-Atleti forward Raul Garcia impressed for the hosts alongside the influential Muniain and rued his team-mates switching off as Costa hit back.

"We knew it was going to be a very difficult game," he told LaLiga TV. "There was a bit of speculation about how the teams were going to come back to the league action but we both went out to win the game.

"Once you've just scored you normally relax a little bit and that's what happened to us today.

"But we have to take the positives. We manged to compete against one of the best teams in the league and unfortunately we couldn't get three points."

Copa del Rey finalists Athletic lie 10th, five points behind Valencia in seventh, which is likely to be the last Europa League qualifying spot should they lose to rivals Sociedad in the showpiece.

Atletico Madrid set a new club record for draws in a single LaLiga season on Sunday, as they were held by Athletic Bilbao on their return to action.

Playing for the first time since football in Spain was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Diego Simeone's side had to settle for a point on the road at San Mames.

Iker Muniain's delightful 37th-minute goal opened the scoring, though Atletico were not behind for long.

Just 129 seconds later, Diego Costa claimed his third goal of the season - and first since October - to bring the visitors level, though the 1-1 result does little to boost Atleti's hopes of a top-four finish.

They sit sixth in the table having drawn 13 of their 28 league games in 2019-20, already the most recorded in a solitary season in the club's history.

Simeone will hope for a more positive outcome when his Champions League quarter-finalists travel to Osasuna on Wednesday. 

Barcelona will face Atletico Madrid in a pivotal match for their LaLiga title bid on June 30.

LaLiga clubs began to confirm their fixture dates across matchdays 32, 33 and 34 on Sunday.

Leaders Barca, who returned to action with a thumping 4-0 win over Real Mallorca on Saturday, are poised to play three games in the space of nine days.

They will travel to play Celta Vigo at Balaidos on June 27, before a home clash on the following Tuesday with Atletico, whose city rivals Real Madrid will be hoping to see Barca drop points.

A late Lionel Messi goal saw Barca triumph 1-0 over Atletico in December's reverse fixture.

Following the Atletico clash, Barca are away to Villarreal on July 5.

That trio of matches comes after key clashes with Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao as part of a pivotal stint of the season.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, are on the road against Espanyol on matchday 32, with the exact date yet to be confirmed.

They play at home to Getafe in their next contest before a testing away meeting with Athletic.

Atletico Madrid were unable to enhance their top-four prospects with victory on their return to LaLiga, playing out a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao.

Iker Muniain's delightful 37th-minute opener was cancelled out 129 seconds later by Diego Costa, who claimed his third goal of the season and first since October.

The striker paid tribute in his celebration to Atletico's women's team midfielder Virginia Torrecilla, who underwent successful surgery to have a brain tumour removed last month. Costa showed a shirt bearing her name.

Substitute Santiago Arias came closest to snatching all the points for Los Colchoneros, who sit sixth in the table on goal difference.

Marcos Llorente opened up Athletic with a fine diagonal throughball in the 12th minute, sending Yannick Carrasco scampering through to shoot just wide across goalkeeper Unai Simon, who briefly lost his footing.

Jan Oblak was uncharacteristically wobbly when he took two attempts to grasp Inaki Williams' 25th-minute header but the Slovenia international displayed his brilliant best when he kept out Yeray's glancing attempt at full stretch.

Oblak had no chance when Muniain dispatched a clever finish with the outside of his right boot into the bottom right corner.

Atletico sprung immediately from their mid-half slumber – Koke's cute pass leaving Costa to slide a finish beyond Simon.

That seemed to inspire a role reversal during the early stages of the second half, with Atletico enjoying plenty of attacking territory but Athletic keeping their visitors honest on the break as Yuri Berchiche crashed an effort into the side-netting.

Diego Simeone's anguish in the dugout was clear when Arias arrived unmarked at the back post 10 minutes from time, drawing a brilliant point-blank save from Simon.

What does it mean? Atletico away form still a worry

Simeone's side might have memorably prevailed at one of European football's great fortresses in their previous competitive match, but that victory at Anfield cannot obscure the fact that they have now won just one of their past 11 away games in LaLiga. They are level on points with Real Sociedad and Getafe in fourth and fifth respectively and such diminishing returns on the road are why their battle for Champions League football will probably go down to the wire.

Muniain and Garcia roll back the years

Lockdown has done nothing for anyone's conception of time and dates, but when Athletic's creative forwards took control of the first half, it was easy to imagine being somewhere during the early stages of the previous decade. Muniain – still only 27 – was irresistible at times, evoking memories of when he was a wonderkid and Spanish football's next superstar in waiting. Playing against the club he starred for in their 2013-14 title win, Raul Garcia proved a superb foil for the number 10.

Llorente ill-suited to number 10 duties

Marcos Llorente's two-goal heroics against Liverpool undoubtedly played a part in Simeone's decision to start him in an advanced role behind Costa. Although the Spain international's play was typically neat and he did not lack for work rate, the absence of his creative qualities from deep as the likes of Thomas Lemar and Alvaro Morata awaited second-half introductions was perplexing.

What's next?

Atletico are on the road again at Osasuna on Wednesday, when Athletic travel to struggling Eibar.

Martin Braithwaite is hoping to answer Barcelona's SOS with goals that carry Quique Setien's team all the way to trophy glory after opening his account.

The Danish striker played his first full 90 minutes in LaLiga since joining from Leganes as an emergency signing in February, as Barcelona thrashed Real Mallorca 4-0 on Saturday night.

It was his fourth appearance and second start in the league since swapping a relegation battle for the title race.

And the man Barca bought to ease their injury problems intends to show how much he can contribute over the remaining weeks of the coronavirus-disrupted season.

He may have his work cut out to secure a regular start, given Luis Suarez returned from knee surgery as a substitute at Mallorca.

But Braithwaite wants to play a part and said of his maiden Barca strike: "I've been waiting for it for a long time, so it's amazing to score my first goal.

"It was most important to start like we did [on Saturday], so we are happy and we have to continue like this.

"As an offensive player you want to score goals and I've been working a lot in this break, and I've been really looking forward to playing this game and hopefully getting a goal and I'm happy, I'm really happy."

Suarez's season looked to be over when he had an operation in January, but the three-month suspension of the league has allowed him to recover fitness, and now coach Setien has options up front for the title push.

The Uruguayan had a 33-minute run-out at Son Moix, and Braithwaite can expect to come under pressure for a regular start.

Barcelona's win in their first match back after lockdown restrictions were eased ensured they would remain top of the table.

Braithwaite said of the successful trip, speaking to Barca TV: "It's really important because we have to start with confidence, and to score four goals and not concede any goals is really important for us.

"We started good and just built our confidence and we need that to continue pursuing what we want."

After Arturo Vidal's early opener, Lionel Messi set up Braithwaite and Jordi Alba before sealing Barca's victory in additional time.

Barcelona have 10 games left in the LaLiga season as they attempt to fend off Real Madrid and wrap up what would be a 27th league title.

Manchester United may be getting closer to finding a way to land Ajax star Donny van de Beek.

Van de Beek has been linked to numerous European giants after impressing with the Eredivisie outfit.

United are among them and the Premier League side could be ready to make a sacrifice to bring the Netherlands international to Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD FIND WAY TO LAND VAN DE BEEK

Manchester United will sell Andreas Pereira to bring in Van de Beek, according to the Mirror.

Van de Beek has been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, but United could beat the LaLiga giants to the midfielder.

The 23-year-old has managed double-digits in goals in three straight seasons, netting 10 times in 37 games in 2019-20.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Old Trafford and Manchester United may keep Alexis Sanchez. On loan at Inter this season, Sanchez is contracted at United until 2022 and the Mirror says the Chile international could stay at the club if he accepts a squad role over being first choice.

- Barcelona are said to be struggling to find a suitor for Philippe Coutinho. Marca reports no clubs have made a move for the playmaker so far.

- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is being linked with an Arsenal exit. However, The Sun says the Premier League club are willing to sell Ainsley Maitland-Niles to fund a new contract for Aubameyang, or find the forward's replacement. Aubameyang's deal at Arsenal expires next year.

- Several clubs are reportedly eyeing RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano. Tuttosport says Arsenal are favourites to land the 21-year-old ahead of Milan. Staying at Arsenal and La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Justin Kluivert could join the club from Roma, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan – on loan at the Serie A club this season – heading permanently in the opposite direction.

- Speculation continues around Achraf Hakimi. Marca reports Bayern Munich are keeping an eye on the defender's situation, with the 21-year-old on loan at Borussia Dortmund from Real Madrid this season.

- Juventus could be preparing to sell Aaron Ramsey. The Mirror reports Tottenham are one of several clubs to have been offered the chance to sign the midfielder.

Quique Setien was "very pleased" with Barcelona's form as they returned to action with a 4-0 win over Real Mallorca on Saturday.

After Arturo Vidal's opener, Lionel Messi set up Martin Braithwaite and Jordi Alba before sealing Barca's victory in additional time.

Although Real Madrid have a game in hand, Barcelona are five points clear, having made a bright return following a break of more than three months from competitive action due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Setien liked what he saw from his side, who have 10 games left in the LaLiga season.

"The feelings are good. There are always things that you want to improve, but I am satisfied with the game we have made," he told reporters.

"We have had an effectiveness … but we were fine with the ball. We have had a break, but I am very satisfied.

"To be the first game without playing, we could be accused of a lack of rhythm, but I think it is a good start to face this sprint that we have 10 games left. I have good feelings in general."

Luis Suarez played his first game since January, coming off the bench in the second half to return from a knee injury.

Setien was pleased with the Uruguayan forward, who set up Messi's sealer after replacing Antoine Griezmann.

"Everything he has done, he has done well. He had quality actions," he said.

"Surely we will see how he is improving, but he has been spectacular."

Barcelona are next in action on Tuesday, hosting Leganes.

Lionel Messi set another LaLiga record on Saturday as Barcelona made a winning return in LaLiga.

The leaders won 4-0 at Real Mallorca in their first match since the campaign was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Arturo Vidal opened the scoring after just two minutes before Messi set up Martin Braithwaite for his first Barca goal and then Jordi Alba to make the points safe.

Messi then added a fourth in second-half injury time to reach 20 LaLiga goals for 2019-20.

The Argentina star is the only player to score 20 or more goals in Spain's top flight in 12 consecutive seasons.

Arturo Vidal, Martin Braithwaite, Jordi Alba and Lionel Messi were all on target as Barcelona beat Real Mallorca 4-0 to make a winning return in LaLiga.

It had been three months since the leaders last played because of the coronavirus-enforced break, but they needed less than two minutes to go ahead through Vidal's header.

Braithwaite then fired in a second eight minutes before the break in a game that also saw the return of Luis Suarez from injury.

Alba struck11 minutes from time before Messi wrapped up victory in injury time as Barca went five points clear of Real Madrid ahead of Los Blancos' return to action on Sunday.

There was no sign of any rust in Quique Setien's ranks as Barca went ahead after just 65 seconds.

Frenkie de Jong robbed Real Madrid loanee Takefusa Kubo in midfield and the ball was delivered into the box by Alba, with Vidal running onto the cross and directing his header into the bottom-left corner of the net.

Barca threatened to put the game to bed early on as Braithwaite and Messi both came close before Mallorca finally woke up.

Kubo looked intent on making amends as he forced Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a good save from the edge of the box before being denied again with a low free-kick.

Yet the leaders doubled their lead before the interval, Braithwaite clinically dispatching his first goal for the club after a scrappy build-up that included headed flick-ons from De Jong and Messi.

Mallorca nearly found a way back into the match shortly after the restart, but Ante Budimir's first-time effort was always bending away from Ter Stegen as it flew wide.

Setien brought on Suarez – out since January because of a knee injury – and that seemed to galvanise Messi, who set up Braithwaite and Ronald Araujo for efforts that were stopped by Manolo Reina and the post respectively.

Messi would not be denied a second assist, though, as he cleverly flicked the ball over the top for Alba, who just managed to stay onside and finish at the near post.

There was time enough for Messi to get on the scoresheet as he kept his balance in the box before working space and firing right-footed high into the net.

 

What does it mean? No away day blues for Setien's side

Barca's away form has been a problem this term and they arrived at Son Moix having won just one of their previous five LaLiga games on their travels, conceding 10 times across those games.

However, with centre-back Araujo making his first start, the Blaugrana recorded their first away clean sheet of 2020 and extend their lead at the top.

Alba delivers the goods

Coming into this game, Ter Stegen had more LaLiga assists this season than Alba but the left-back pulled level with his early cross for Vidal's goal.

The 31-year-old was involved in the second goal too, while he regained possession a team-high six times and had three clearances to boot.

Anonymous Antoine

The return of Suarez – and the continued transfer talk surrounding Inter's Lautaro Martinez over the break – should have jolted Antoine Griezmann into delivering a better performance.

However, in the 57 minutes the Frenchman was on the pitch, he failed to have a single shot and Braithwaite's goal means Griezmann is in danger of falling further down the pecking order.

What's next?

Barcelona host Leganes on Tuesday before travelling to Sevilla three days later as the fixtures come thick and fast in LaLiga. Mallorca, who have a crucial clash with Leganes next Friday, travel to Villarreal next.

Arturo Vidal is happy to remain at Barcelona so long as he feels important at the club, despite rumours of a reunion with Antonio Conte at Inter.

The midfielder is aiming to help Barca retain their LaLiga title following the coronavirus-enforced suspension to the season, as they try to hold off rivals Real Madrid to be crowned champions again.

Vidal turned 33 during the break and while he has made 31 appearances in a 2019-20 campaign that has seen a change of head coach at Camp Nou, he has started only eight times in the league.

The Chile international is settled off the field but admits playing time - and more specifically a lack of it - will dictate his future in Spain beyond the completion of the 2019-20 campaign.

"There are two months left [of the season]. But I want to feel important and, if not, I have to look out for my career," Vidal said in an interview with El Periodico.

"In Barcelona it is spectacular, my family is happy and I have very good team-mates.

"I like to play, I like to feel important. I do not say [to play in] all the games, but those that are key, those that help win titles."

Inter have been linked with a move for Vidal, who previously worked with Nerazzurri boss Conte when the Italian was in charge of Juventus.

"We have a very good relationship," he said of Conte, who led Juve to three successive Serie A titles during his reign.

"You know I'm a winner, you know you can trust me. You understand? 

"That is what I want here [at Barcelona]. Let people trust [in me], we have two months left and I hope to have that confidence."

Zinedine Zidane is thrilled to have Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio fully fit again following significant injury lay-offs, but he could not guarantee Luka Jovic will recover before the end of the season.

Hazard and Asensio have both had miserable seasons, with the Belgium international enduring a continued battle with fitness problems, while the Spaniard is yet to make an appearance after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in a pre-season friendly.

Hazard suffered an ankle fracture in November, ruling him out for almost three months, and he then cracked his fibula shortly after returning.

Had the season not have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the former Chelsea star – who joined Madrid in a reported €100million deal last year – would have been expected to be out for at least another eight weeks.

But, as Madrid prepare to return to action at home to Eibar on Sunday, Zidane confirmed both Hazard and Asensio are available once again, potentially a significant boost as Los Blancos attempt to chase down pacesetters Barcelona, who go to Real Mallorca later on Saturday with a two-point lead.

"The good thing is they had the same time to prepare as the rest of the team," Zidane told reporters on Saturday.

"Asensio's injury was a bit more serious and required longer rehabilitation, but both are available, they'll be there for the team to help us and it's good news to have them back."

Zidane was again asked about Hazard's condition and the Frenchman affirmed the winger is completely recovered, though Jovic may not return anytime soon.

The Serbian forward broke his foot in May and Zidane was unable to guarantee he would be able to play again in what has been a disappointing first season at the Santiago Bernabeu for the former Eintracht Frankfurt star.

"On Hazard, I'm happy he's back and fully fit, he has re-joined the group and he can play and help us. The bad news is Jovic's injury," he said.

"He injured himself at home. It was unfortunate, obviously, because now it will keep him away from the pitch.

"We don't know for how long for, but we'll see. It's bad news of course – we hope he is back as soon as possible and before the season is over."

One of the new temporary measures brought in for the end of the season following the enforced hiatus is a substitutions increase from three to five.

Critics have suggested this will benefit the bigger clubs with deeper squads, though Zidane does not see it making a major difference to anyone.

"I don't think anyone will benefit immensely," he added. "It's a different rule, we have to adapt to it and if we have five substitutes then we'll adapt to that.

"As I say, I have 23 players available and I'll try to adapt to it. The circumstances are strange and obviously we have to take that into account, but we adapt to whatever we need to adapt to. We're ready for everything."

Atletico Madrid are not currently capable of playing with Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa in attack, according to Diego Simeone.

Costa only returned from three months out with a back injury shortly before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, while Morata has scored 12 goals in 32 appearances this term. They have started together five times in all competitions in 2019-20.

Simeone will be unable to select the suspended Joao Felix when Atletico play their first game in over three months against Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga on Sunday.

The head coach has looked at using midfielder Marcos Llorente, who scored twice when Atleti eliminated Liverpool from the Champions League at Anfield before the coronavirus stoppage, as an attacker in a bid to give his team greater balance.

"We manage different situations and Marcos gives us important alternatives, where we can play with three in the middle and [Yannick] Carrasco as striker," said Simeone on Saturday.

"I think that Marcos has a very good physical condition and good finishing from behind the striker. He already showed it when some people thought taking out Costa for him at Anfield was a defensive change and he was key.

"On the possibility of putting Costa and Morata together, it is not the same as in pre-season. Now I cannot take advantage of both together because I do not have a team prepared to sustain the two forwards.

"I prefer to harness the power that each one has separately until at some point they can play together. That's why I explain why Alvaro and Costa do not play when Alvaro is available."

Simeone's assistant German Burgos will leave Atleti at the end of the season to pursue a career as a head coach.

"I have absolute gratitude to German, he is essential. I am grateful for the time German has given me and we have shared professionally and personally," said Simeone.

"It's a very important decision and he will face many challenges that will motivate him.

"Some of the players have already commented on what German has given us and when he finishes, we wish him the best."

Barcelona great Hristo Stoichkov says he would be willing to give up the Golden Boot he won at the 1994 World Cup if it meant Lionel Messi could win international football's greatest prize.

Despite sweeping the board during a glittering career with Barca, six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has never lifted a major honour with Argentina.

There were a succession of near misses during the past decade, with Germany beating La Albiceleste after extra time in the final of the 2014 World Cup, before Chile prevailed on penalties in the 2015 Copa America and Copa America Centenario showpieces.

The 2020 Copa America was due to start on Friday but has been put back 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, while the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is likely to be Messi's final tilt at the big prize.

Speaking to Argentinian station Radio Villa Trinidad, Stoichkov said he felt the 32-year-old had shouldered an unfair share of criticism over the failures of his national team.

"To see a friend happy, like Leo, and to stop him suffering so much for not being able to win a World Cup, I would change my Golden Boot, which I got at the 1994 World Cup, to see Messi world champion," he said.

"Always when he loses, Messi has the blame and they never talk about those who are next to him and fail.

"In South Africa [at the 2010 World Cup under Diego Maradona], they had a great team and where did it end and why? No one asks it.

"Later in Brazil, Argentina reached the final and when [other players] have clear opportunities, the fault lies with Messi and Messi loses.

"In the Copa America they have lost two finals on penalties. And again, Messi cannot win, but what do we do with the players who failed and Messi assisted them? They are hiding."

Nevertheless, Stoichkov does not think all is lost for Argentina ahead of Qatar 2022.

"Sooner or later the glory of Messi will end," he added. "Then we must value everything that was done in football.

"I believe that in 2022 in Qatar this Argentine national team will have the last great opportunity to win the World Cup in its history .

"With Lautaro Martinez, with Paulo Dybala, with the last campaigns, I imagine, by Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria. There is a very competitive team."

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