Carlo Ancelotti says Eden Hazard is aware of exactly why he is being given so little playing time at Real Madrid this season.

Belgium international Hazard has endured a tough time of things across his three years with Madrid, mainly due to fitness reasons.

Despite largely being fit this campaign, however, the 31-year-old has started just one of Madrid's 10 matches in all competitions and has featured only twice as a substitute.

He was an unused sub in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Osasuna, with the likes of Marco Asensio and Mariano Diaz being preferred as Los Blancos chased a winning goal.

Ancelotti stood by his selection calls after the match and has reiterated ahead of Wednesday's Champions League tie with Shakhtar Donetsk that Hazard must fight for his place.

"It is clear that each player knows his situation. I have to explain to them what's going on," Ancelotti said.

"In this regard, Eden has not spoken to me. He has a lot of competition. The situation of his and others is quite clear.

"He understands the situation very well – every player understands his situation very well. There's a lot of competition here."

One player whose place in the side is not up for debate is striker Karim Benzema, who has scored four goals in seven appearances this season.

However, the France international has gone three games without finding the net, either side of a month on the sidelines, and missed a penalty in the draw with Osasuna.

But team-mate Dani Carvajal does not believe that missed spot-kick will play on Benzema's mind when Shakhtar travel to the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

"He's a key player on and off the pitch," Carvajal said. "I don't think Karim is influenced by scoring or missing a penalty. 

"He would go away unhappy, but he is above it all. For us he is indispensable, the best in his position

"He's irreplaceable, there's no one like him. Hopefully he can score two or three goals and that penalty will be behind him."

Madrid have won each of their past six games in the group stage of the Champions League, scoring 17 goals and only conceding once in the process. 

They are two points ahead of unbeaten Shakhtar in Group F after two rounds of fixtures as they look to retain the European crown lifted in Paris a little over four months ago.

But Shakhtar have won two of their six ties with Madrid in the competition, with that 33 per cent win rate the fourth best of any side against the Spanish giants.

Madrid will be expected to claim a routine victory, though, and Carvajal accepts his side must live with the perennial tag of being favourites to conquer the continent again.

"We know how difficult it is to win the Champions League, I think when teams play us, they see we are in with a chance," he said.

"I don't know how it works, who decides who is favourite. I think in the top four or five, Real Madrid are there.

"I have to respect everyone's opinion. I think we've won five of the last nine, so I don't think it's down to luck."

Carlo Ancelotti believes Real Madrid "deserved" to beat Osasuna in Sunday's draw, but called for a reaction from his players as he defended his decision to keep Eden Hazard benched.

The Belgium international was a spectator as Los Blancos slipped to a 1-1 draw against their visitors, with Karim Benzema fluffing a potential match-winning penalty to ensure the spoils were shared.

The club's first dropped points of the domestic season saw them surrender top spot to rivals Barcelona, with the pair's Clasico encounter – which takes place in just under a fortnight – set to represent a huge moment in the title race.

Speaking after Sunday's stalemate, Ancelotti acknowledged his team's frustrations after they dominated for long periods, but added that he anticipates a response.

"This team is upset when it doesn't win," he stated. "The game was under our control and we deserved to win. 

"We're not happy and that's the reason why this side won a lot last year. We're not happy with the draw and we will react soon. 

"We shouldn't be making excuses about the [international] break. We need to manage the break. We've got a very good squad."

Mariano Diaz was preferred to Hazard when Ancelotti required attacking reinforcements in the second half, and the Italian was succinct in his reasoning for the Belgian's absence.

"It was a game that needed a strong centre forward who was good in the air like Mariano, who had chances to score with his head," he added. "It wasn't the right match for Hazard’s qualities."

Meanwhile, Thibaut Courtois missed the game through a case of sciatica, but Ancelotti is hopeful he could return as soon as the club's midweek Champions League encounter with Shakhtar Donetsk.

"He's got some tests and we'll see if he can get back," he stated. "It's a muscular issue, I think it's with the sciatic nerve. We'll find out if he can play on Wednesday."

Eden Hazard has vowed he will return to his best form once his "delicate situation" at Real Madrid has been resolved.

The Belgium international showed flashes of quality during his 65 minutes on the field in his country's 2-1 Nations League win over Wales on Thursday.

That was the longest Hazard has played in a single match this season, having been restricted to just one start across Madrid's nine matches, each of those ending in victory.

Hazard's place in Belgium's line-up has been called into question ahead of the World Cup, and the ex-Chelsea forward acknowledged he needs to be playing more regularly.

"I was happy to start another match," he told RTL. "You saw that, I think. I'm happy when I play and it was nice to play for the supporters here [in Brussels] again.

"I know what I can do. Now I want to get in shape for the World Cup. We'll see what the coach [Roberto Martinez] decides, but I'm happiest when I play.

"When I play, I give it my all. It's a delicate situation at Real Madrid. I feel like playing more, but I can't do more.

"I've always said the old Eden Hazard will come back when he plays. I just need to get back into the rhythm."

Michy Batshuayi and Kevin De Bruyne both linked up with a goal and an assist each to give Belgium a 2-0 lead against Wales, who pulled one back through Kieffer Moore.

Martinez's side remain within three points of Group A4 leaders Netherlands ahead of travelling to Amsterdam on Sunday for their final game.

"We are going to try to play a good game there and prepare ourselves for the World Cup," Hazard said.

"I'm glad we played so well after the [Wales] goal. We can learn a lot from this for the next games."

Real Madrid survived a hostile reception and the loss of striker Karim Benzema to injury as they dug deep to begin their Champions League defence with a ruthless 3-0 win at Celtic.

Los Blancos' quest for a record-extending 15th European Cup got off to a bad start when losing star man Benzema to a knee injury with 30 minutes played of Tuesday's opener.

Celtic had already struck the post through Callum McGregor at that point and continued to trouble their opponents on their return to the group stage after four seasons away.

But as they so often did last season, Madrid found a way thanks to quickfire goals from Vinicius Junior and Luka Modric, which Eden Hazard added to with a brilliant third.

Liel Abada and Reo Hatate had both asked questions of Thibaut Courtois in a lively opening half an hour for the hosts at a raucous Celtic Park. 

Ange Postecoglou's side went even closer to scoring when McGregor was picked out by Giorgos Giakoumakis and unleashed a left-footed strike against the frame of the goal.

Madrid lost Benzema to injury soon after but would have been ahead before half-time had Joe Hart not denied Vinicius from a one-on-one.

The visitors, having survived another let-off when substitute Daizen Maeda scuffed a shot at Courtois from close range, opened the scoring 11 minutes into the second half.

Federico Valverde found Vinicius with a lovely ball into the centre of the box at the end of a swift attack, and the forward coolly picked his spot past Hart with a first-time finish.

Madrid had a second four minutes later as Modric, making his 100th appearance for the club in the competition, prodded past Hart with an outside-of-the-boot finish.

It was plain sailing from that point on, and Hazard – the man brought on for Benzema – added a third from close range after some smart play from Toni Kroos and Dani Carvajal at the end of a fine team move.

Carlo Ancelotti described Luka Modric as "immortal" after his outstanding display in Real Madrid's 4-1 LaLiga win over Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Modric, 36, restored Madrid's lead shortly before half-time with a sumptuous strike from outside the area after Karim Benzema and Iago Aspas had exchanged penalties.

It marked the first time the Croatia international had scored two consecutive goals from outside the area in the competition since January 2019 when he completed a run of three.

Indeed, more than half of Modric's goals for Madrid in all competitions have been from outside the box (18 out of 32).

He then followed that up in the second half with a superb pass to set Vinicius Junior up for Madrid's third.

The LaLiga and European champions agreed a deal with Manchester United on Friday for the sale of midfielder Casemiro, but Modric hardly looked like he missed the Brazilian.

"Modric's goal changed the game," Ancelotti said. "Until then it had been quite even. Celta were pressing well, but that intensity dropped in the second half.

"Modric is immortal. He's always ready and always plays well."

Aurelien Tchouameni impressed in Casemiro's traditional role at the base of Madrid's midfield three, with no player on the pitch making more clearances (four) or interceptions (three), while he gained possession a joint team-high nine times.

The France international is considered by many to be the natural heir to Casemiro, but Ancelotti does not want to compare the two.

"Tchouameni has different qualities to Casemiro, but today he played very well," the Italian said.

"He showed what he has been showing in training. Without the ball, he defended well. He did well defensively with Modric and [Eduardo] Camavinga."

Substitute Eden Hazard missed the chance to score his first LaLiga goal since May 2021 when his late penalty was saved by Agustin Marchesin.

Benzema gave up the opportunity to take the spot-kick himself – a gesture that was welcomed by Ancelotti.

"I thought it was a very nice gesture from Benzema to Hazard," he added. "It doesn't matter if he missed it, as he normally takes penalties well. It's more important that Hazard has shown an overall good performance."

Real Madrid made it back-to-back wins to start their LaLiga title defence as goals from Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde sealed a 4-1 victory over Celta Vigo.

Carlo Ancelotti's side agreed a deal with Manchester United on Friday for the sale of midfielder Casemiro, but they scarcely missed the Brazilian enforcer in what was a dominant performance against Eduardo Coudet's men at Balaidos.

Benzema opened his league account for the season from the penalty spot early on, before Iago Aspas levelled with a spot-kick of his own midway through the first half.

Modric gave Madrid the lead again with a wonderful strike shortly before half-time, while Vinicius and Valverde were on target in the second half as Los Blancos, who missed a late penalty through Eden Hazard, wrapped up maximum points with the minimum of fuss.

Madrid went ahead in the 14th minute through Benzema's penalty after David Alaba's shot had crashed into the arm of Renato Tapia, the spot-kick given after a lengthy pitchside review from referee Jesus Gil Manzano.

Celta levelled with a penalty of their own in the 23rd minute, Aspas powerfully striking past Thibaut Courtois from 12 yards after Goncalo Paciencia's header was blocked by the arm of Eder Militao.

Los Blancos restored their lead three minutes before the interval, however, when Modric jinked his way to the edge of the area and whipped a sumptuous strike into Agustin Marchesin's top-left corner.

Modric was key to Madrid's third goal as well, the midfielder threading a fine ball through for Vinicius, who rounded Marchesin and slotted into an empty net in the 56th minute.

Valverde then added a fourth 10 minutes later with a clinical finish from 15 yards following a flowing counter-attacking move, before substitute Hazard saw his spot-kick saved by Marchesin after Benzema had been fouled by Hugo Mallo.

What does it mean? Madrid extend run over sorry Celta

Celta had failed to win any of their previous 16 games against Real Madrid in LaLiga (D2 L14), and it was not hard to see why as a dominant Madrid stretched that run to 17.

Despite the loss of Casemiro, Los Blancos look in rude health for the 2022-23 season. This victory meant they have won their opening two LaLiga games in a season for the first time since 2018-19 under Julen Lopetegui.

Masterful Modric

Modric certainly did not seem to suffer from Casemiro's absence. The Croatia international restored Madrid's lead with a wonderful strike – his 18th from outside the penalty area for the club – before setting up Vinicius' goal with a typically incisive pass.

Benzema punishes Celta again

Benzema's early strike from the spot means he has now been involved in an incredible 10 goals in his past four LaLiga games against Celta (eight goals and two assists), including two braces and one hat-trick. They will be glad to see the back of him for a few months at least.

What's next?

Celta are away at Girona on Friday, while Madrid travel to Espanyol two days later – their third consecutive away game to start the season.

Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga failed to show the quality they have done in training during Real Madrid's 2-1 win at Almeria on Sunday, according to boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Madrid fell behind to Largie Ramazani's early strike at the Power Horse Stadium in their opening LaLiga game of the season, but they drew level thanks to Lucas Vazquez's goal in the 61st minute.

They then sealed all three points with 15 minutes remaining when substitute David Alaba curled a sumptuous free-kick past Fernando Martinez from 25 yards with his first touch.

Tchouameni, who joined from Monaco in June for a fee that could rise to €100m, and Camavinga started alongside Toni Kroos in midfield, but both struggled to make an impact.

Camavinga was replaced by Luka Modric at half-time, while Tchouameni did not last an hour before he was substituted for Eden Hazard.

Neither player made more than a single key pass – well short of the team-high four that was achieved by three other players – with Ancelotti suggesting the pressure of playing for such a prestigious club affected the pair.

"For me, [Antonio] Rudiger played a good game," he told Movistar.

"The youngsters didn't play like they usually do. For what they do in training they deserve to play. They haven't done anything wrong, but they can do better.

"They are young and the shirt is heavy. It is a toll we pay, but we pay it with pleasure.

"I removed Camavinga because he had a card and could be a danger in a team that played on the break.

"It was normal to suffer, because we've complicated the game with a defensive error. From then on it has cost us a lot."

Hazard has endured a torrid time with injuries since he joined from Chelsea in July 2019, but the Belgium international is hoping to play an important role this season. 

Ancelotti is not sure where his best position will be, given Vinicius Junior's continued brilliance on the left of the front three, but the Italian expects him to feature regularly. 

Asked where his best position is, Ancelotti said: "I don't know, I have to think about it. Hazard is a midfielder. We have to bear in mind that Vini really likes the wing.

"Today he tried to find a lot of the right central defender, where the spaces were very small. Hazard when he came on was good, he's training well and I think he's going to have minutes this season."

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti says Eden Hazard is a "great player" who the Spanish champions need after netting in Tuesday's 2-2 friendly draw with Club America.

Hazard has struggled for impact at Madrid since his switch from Chelsea in 2019 amid a string of injuries, making only 66 appearances and scoring six goals across three seasons.

The 31-year-old Belgian midfielder is fit again and vowed earlier this week to show his best with Los Blancos this season.

Hazard was on the scoresheet from the penalty spot against the Mexican side in San Francisco, with Ancelotti hoping to set him up for a big campaign.

"We need these games to try to give Hazard minutes because Hazard is a great player that we need," Ancelotti told reporters.

"So I use these games to give him minutes. He improved his game compared to the first game."

Los Blancos have one more game in their US tour against Juventus in Pasadena on Saturday prior to the new LaLiga campaign commencing on August 14.

Ancelotti continues to learn about his squad during pre-season, in particular new additions Antonio Rudiger and Aurelien Tchouameni.

On Tchouameni, the Italian said: "He's a different six than Casemiro, who stays more in his position. Tchouameni has the ability and quality to play more in attack. He has also improved on the ball."

Karim Benzema was Madrid's other scorer, equalising for 1-1 with an excellent low strike from outside the box in the 22nd minute.

Benzema, who scored 44 goals in all club competitions last term, had not played any competitive games since May, enjoying a longer break with the World Cup later this year in mind.

"Benzema is in good shape, even if he hasn't done a lot of training sessions," Ancelotti said.

"It's clear that he still needs to improve his physical form. But we are on schedule, working a lot.

"After the game against Juventus we will reduce the pressure a bit to be in good shape for the Super Cup."

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti has declared his squad as "better than last year", and suggested there will be no more arrivals at the Santiago Bernabeu in this transfer window.

Los Blancos won LaLiga and the Champions League in 2021-22, and have since added Antonio Rudiger from Chelsea and Aurelien Tchouameni from Monaco.

However, questions have been asked about a perceived lack of attacking options, with Luka Jovic having left for Fiorentina and doubts about the immediate future of Marco Asensio.

Madrid faced El Clasico rivals Barcelona on Saturday as part of their pre-season preparations in Las Vegas, losing 1-0 to a stunning Raphinha strike.

As well as the former Leeds United man, Barca have signed Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich to complete a formidable looking set of forward options ahead of the new campaign.

Madrid's star striker Karim Benzema was not involved, though Ancelotti confirmed the France international will return in their next outing against Club America.

When asked by reporters following the defeat to Barca if he needed another striker, Ancelotti replied: "The squad is closed and it is better than last year. Our two new arrivals are going to contribute a lot. 

"There are 27 players, a lot of them, and training them is not easy, but the ones I have are intelligent and understand the difficulty I have."

On the futures of Asensio and midfielder Dani Ceballos, Ancelotti simply said it was "up to them" and "up to the club".

Eden Hazard started the game at Allegiant Stadium playing as a false nine in between Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo, and Ancelotti hinted that could be where the Belgian predominantly features in the coming season.

"He can play in several positions, it was seen last year," he said. "He has the quality to be false nine, but he has to get used to it."

Eden Hazard has no intentions of leaving Real Madrid to follow Gareth Bale to Major League Soccer, insisting "I want to show people that I can play in this club".

Hazard has struggled at Santiago Bernabeu since completing his big-money move from Chelsea in June 2019, with injuries and fitness issues hampering the forward.

The Belgium international was largely a spectator last season, making just seven starts for his 17 LaLiga appearances as Madrid earned European and Spanish glory.

That followed the pattern of a frustrating spell in the Spanish capital, where he has made only 48 appearances in LaLiga for the club – 20 of which have come from the bench.

But the 31-year-old, who has just 10 league goal involvements for Madrid (four goals, six assists), is out to prove a point and show his worth to Carlo Ancelotti's side.

"It's been a few seasons that I was not playing that much, so for me... I just want to show what I can do on the pitch – that's my only target," he told ESPN.

"When you play football, you just want to be on the pitch, and when you are out [of] the pitch... [You think] 'What's happened?' because I was not injured before and so it was something new for me to be injured, so you have to learn.

"It's a way to learn the way you have to do things, your body, you take care [of] in different ways, you work more with physios, this kind of thing. But it's a good challenge now... I'm healthy, so I'm just ready to play.

"It's not that easy, especially when you don't know why you're injured. I've been injured at my time at Chelsea, but not like those three years with Real Madrid.

"I knew that it was something wrong with my body, so that's why I asked to do the surgery at the end of the season last year."

Bale ended his spell with Madrid as he joined MLS side Los Angeles FC at the end of June, aiming to gain fitness and match practice to feature for Wales at the upcoming Qatar World Cup in November.

Hazard has no intentions of moving to the United States to join Bale in the near future, though, with his sole focus on playing for Madrid for at least the next two years.

"I don't think about that that much now, I'm just focused," he said when asked about a transfer to MLS.

"It's been three years [which have been] hard for me, so I'm just focused on this season. I still have a contract after two more years, and then we'll see.

"In two years I'm going to be 33, so let's see what can happen."

Real Madrid will see a "totally different" Eden Hazard next season, according to Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, who says the winger is "obsessed" with succeeding at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Having joined Madrid in a blockbuster £103.5m deal in 2019, Hazard has struggled in Spain, making just 48 appearances in LaLiga for the club - 20 of which have come from the bench.

Hazard has only recorded 10 league goal involvements in that time (four goals, six assists), and was a virtual spectator as Carlo Ancelotti's men won LaLiga and the Champions League last season, starting just seven league games.

But the 31-year-old impressed for Belgium during the recent international break, and was adamant he will get back to the player he was after assisting Kevin De Bruyne's goal in a recent 6-1 win over Poland. 

Martinez agrees that prediction, and believes the winger's goal of winning the World Cup in Qatar this year will provide an additional motivation when he returns to Madrid.

"Eden Hazard is in the best period of his career," Martinez told radio programme El Larguero.

"I was surprised by the state of mind and physical condition he was in in June," he said. "Real Madrid fans are going to see a totally different Hazard.

"He is obsessed with succeeding at Real Madrid. He has not thought about changing his objective. He wants to win the World Cup."

Meanwhile, Martinez's own future as Belgium boss has been questioned in recent months, with the former Everton man failing to lead the Red Devils' so-called "golden generation" of stars to tournament glory since taking charge in 2016.

The 48-year-old recently said he will not discuss any prospective new contract with Belgium until after the World Cup, but has now refused to close the door to coaching the Spanish national team in the future.

"I'm always open to any project with real belief behind it," he said.

Belgium and Spain could potentially face off in the round of 16 in Qatar, with Martinez's men facing Canada, Morocco and Croatia in Group F and Luis Enrique's team drawn alongside Germany, Japan and Costa Rica in Group E.

Belgium star Eden Hazard feels he is returning to his best after his side came from 1-0 down against Poland on Wednesday to storm home for a 6-1 Nations League win.

From the moment Robert Lewandowski put Poland ahead in the 28th minute, it would be all Belgium, controlling 60 per cent of the possession for the match while producing nine shots on target to zero in the second half.

Axel Witsel made it 1-1 before half-time, before the Red Devils' dynamic duo combined, with Hazard assisting Kevin De Bruyne to pull ahead 2-1.

The last 20 minutes was an attacking exhibition from the Belgians, with two goals to Leandro Trossard, one to Leander Dendoncker, before Lois Openda completed the rout in the 93rd minute.

Speaking to RTL Sport after the win, Hazard said consistent playing time will be the key to returning to his top form.

"I'm going back to being the player I was," he said. "I will become the player I was again by stringing together games, minutes. 

"In the team, there was no more desire than against the Netherlands, it's the score that is very different. 

"But it's true that after Friday's defeat, we talked to each other and made resolutions. But it remains between us, a secret.

"It's a great reaction from the team. We needed to answer after the defeat, it's done, I think a lot of people will sleep well – and me too."

Hazard also highlighted the depth of the Belgian squad, and that he hopes there will be some rotation in the starting-11.

"There are two matches left, we will go to Wales and Poland to win," he said. "I hope coach [Roberto] Martínez will consider that there are plenty of players who can play – not just 11 or 12 players. We really are a group"

While Hazard wants to see some fresh faces getting some run, Martinez made it clear that the Real Madrid man is not willing to be the one to take a seat – and that he is looking like his former self.

"When you see Eden Hazard walk into a room, you can see straight away if he is happy or not," he said. "And there it is clear: there is no more pain. 

"He was better today, his physical stats today are as good as they have been in the past. Hazard's idea is to be in all four games to give him the rhythm he needs."

Martinez was also full of praise of the combination of Trossard and Dendoncker, saying the future of Belgian football remains bright.

"There is a lot of satisfaction tonight, in many areas," he said. "Players have met expectations, such as Leandro Trossard or Leander Dendoncker in defence.

"Leandro Trossard, we have seen him grow over time. And he is one of the examples why Belgium should never worry about the talent there is in this country. For some, talent must take its time to develop.

"Hans Vanaken, Leandro Trossard have had a constant evolution since their arrival in the national team. Leandro must be inspired by boys like Eden Hazard to understand the 'gap' that can exist with the world's top, but he has come so far.

"Dendoncker, sometimes we don't give him enough credit because he is versatile, between a defender and a midfielder. But he never let the team down, defensively he was very alert.

"We saw that Dendoncker could project himself as a midfielder. It was Leander's most mature performance with the national team. There were a lot of games where he proved he could be trusted, and that was the case again tonight."

Eden Hazard has backed Real Madrid colleague Karim Benzema to win the Ballon d'Or, while he suggested fellow team-mate Thibaut Courtois should finish in the top five.

Benzema has enjoyed a remarkable season, inspiring Madrid to Champions League success and the Spanish title with four games to spare.

The France international scored 15 times in the Champions League, including a joint-record 10 in the knockout stages to be named as the competition's Player of the Season.

The Madrid talisman ended the season with 44 goals and 15 assists across all competitions. Only Kylian Mbappe (60) can better Benzema's 59 goal involvements among players from Europe's top five leagues.

Meanwhile, Courtois was the star of the show against Liverpool as he made nine saves, a record for a Champions League final since Opta began collecting data in 2003-04.

Courtois has led the way among goalkeepers in the competition this season, making the most saves (59) and boasting the highest save percentage of those to produce five stops or more (80.6).

That led to suggestions the Belgium international may be an unlikely contender for the Ballon d'Or, but Red Devils team-mate Hazard believes Benzema should win the coveted individual award.

"I've known [Courtois] for ten years now and he's been doing this for ten years," Hazard told reporters at a Nations League news conference on Tuesday.

"That was already the case at Chelsea and now at Real. Courtois, [Kevin] De Bruyne, [Sadio] Mane, Vinicius [Junior], they all had a good season. 

"But still I think Benzema deserves to win it. Courtois should be in the top five. But when you see how Benzema played in the quarter and semi-finals, that was really impressive."

Benzema will hope to carry his scintillating club form into the next season with Madrid, and also with France at the World Cup in Qatar.

The 34-year-old will partner with Mbappe at the tournament in November, and the Paris Saint-Germain star was almost Benzema's club team-mate before he snubbed Los Blancos earlier in the month.

Mbappe opted to stay in the French capital and sign a three-year extension with PSG, leaving Hazard to rue the impact he could have had at the Santiago Bernabeu as he aims to recover his own form for the upcoming campaign.

"The seats are already expensive at Real, but with Kylian Mbappe they would be even more expensive," Hazard added.

"Now I have to show the coach that I'm ready, that I can play. But since my surgery I do feel better. My approach will not change. All my success is also due to how I approached it."

Eden Hazard hopes to prove he is "not done yet" but remained non-committal on his future past the World Cup with Belgium.

The Real Madrid winger has endured another frustrating season, despite Los Blancos wrapping up a 35th LaLiga title with ease and 14th European Cup with Champions League victory over Liverpool on Saturday.

Hazard started just seven games in LaLiga this season for his 18 appearances, totalling 713 minutes of action, and recorded just one assist without finding the net.

That has been the disappointing trend for the 31-year-old, who has managed just 48 outings in the league for Madrid since leaving Chelsea for a reported fee of €100million in 2019.

Hazard remains a well-liked member of the Madrid dressing room, regularly seen surrounded by team-mates at the various celebrations this campaign, but he is striving to improve next season.

His next task sees him lead Belgium into their Nations League campaign, starting against the Netherlands on Friday, and Hazard is hoping to prove a point with his country, who will aim for World Cup glory in Qatar.

"I was disappointed at the European Championship. I had done everything I could to stay fit, but then I missed out against Portugal," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"Now we have even bigger players and young people who will show themselves. We have to go to Qatar with the hope of winning. I want to be able to play without any problems and get back to my old level. 

"But I don't know yet if I will continue after Qatar. It depends on so many things. My family, but also my body for example. I also have to be able to handle it physically.

"I don't know if I'm going to play all the games. You should not forget that I have played very little football in recent months.

"But I want to use these matches to find my feeling and the rhythm again. Ideally, I'll do good preparation to play everything next season and be strong for the World Cup."

While he remains unsure on his future past the World Cup with Belgium, Hazard insists he will give his all to succeed with Madrid before his contract expires in 2024.

"My career was already beautiful," he continued. "Playing at the most beautiful club in the world is great, although the past three years have not been great. 

"For me personally it was bad, but I have come across great players and people. My contract has two more years left and everything points to it getting better. 

"There are no more physical problems and I want to show that I am not done yet. I never thought of leaving. I didn't want to leave. I know I can show something when I get to my level. 

"I just have to play again to be the old, the real Eden Hazard. For me, the new season started three weeks ago. 

"I knew it would be difficult to play this season, but the most important thing for me is to prepare well and be ready for next season."

David Alaba has taken his place in Real Madrid's starting line-up for the first time in over a month for the Champions League final against Liverpool on Saturday.

Alaba had been out of action since being substituted at half-time during Madrid's 4-3 semi-final first-leg defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, with Nacho starting instead when Carlo Ancelotti's men sealed a 6-5 aggregate victory with a stunning comeback at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this month.

The Austria defender's selection in Paris was the only change to the Madrid side that started that second leg, with attacking duo Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema again leading the line.

Those two have assisted one another a combined 18 times in all competitions this season, the most of any pairing in Europe's top five leagues.

Vinicius' inclusion made him just the fifth player to start a Champions League final for Madrid aged 21 or younger, after Raul (1998), Iker Casillas (2000), Nicolas Anelka (2000) and Raphael Varane (2014).

However, Benzema is at the opposite end of his career. He and Alaba were joined by Toni Kroos and Luka Modric to make Madrid the first team to start a final with four players who had previously made 100 or more Champions League appearances.

Benzema had been one of three centurions (also Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos) in Madrid's 2018 final win over Liverpool, in which Gareth Bale's brace as a substitute proved the difference in a 3-1 triumph.

Bale was named on the bench again for this rematch ahead of his imminent departure as a free agent, while fellow winger Eden Hazard was also among the substitutes.

Semi-final hero Rodrygo Goes, who grabbed an improbable stoppage-time double to wipe out City's lead over Los Blancos, hoped to make a similar impact after being named next to the big-money duo on the bench.

Madrid headed into the game aiming to win their 14th European Cup or Champions League title, with their 13 prior wins already a record. Ancelotti was bidding to become the first man to win four Champions Leagues.

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