The 13-time Champions League winners Real Madrid are set to kick off their 2021-22 European campaign against Inter Milan on Wednesday. Last year, the teams went head to head in the group stages - the same as this year. Real Madrid won home and away, sealing six points over two legs.
With Carlo Ancelotti back at the helm, Real Madrid have started the 2021-22 La Liga season in fine fashion, winning 10 points from four fixtures. Their early exploits have granted them a seat at the summit, but there is room for improvement.
Real Madrid are set to encounter their first real challenge of the season against Inter and it is unlikely to be a walk in the park. Today, we will take a look at Los Merengues’ weaknesses and give you five reasons why the trip to Inter could be trickier than expected.
#5 Eden Hazard is still not at his best
Real Madrid went all out in the summer of 2019 to sign Eden Hazard from Chelsea. The €115million signing was meant to be Real Madrid’s creator-in-chief. Unfortunately, injuries and lack of fitness have kept him from living up to the billing.
Eden Hazard has featured in all four La Liga games for Real Madrid this season, but he is yet to complete a full 90-minute match. His fitness is still not up there and that translates to sub-par displays on the pitch. Yes, the Belgian is looking considerably more confident this season, but he is yet to be as decisive as Real Madrid need him to be. With Vinicius Jr producing the goods on the left, Hazard is also not playing in his preferred position. Out of position, Hazard has often failed to capitalize on the opportunities his team have created.
Hazard has only registered a single assist in four La Liga games this season and needs to up the ante on Wednesday to improve his tally.
#4 Karim Benzema’s fatigue
Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus in the summer of 2018, Real Madrid have relied solely on Karim Benzema to lead the frontline. The Frenchman, who usually played second fiddle to Ronaldo in attack over the last nine seasons, did not disappoint. Benzema has been Real Madrid’s most consistent performer over the last three seasons and the team needs him at this best on Wednesday.
Benzema, who featured in France in the last round of World Cup qualifiers, has been playing consistently for club and country for a year. Even with negligible rest, he is performing at his best, emerging as La Liga 2021-22’s leading goalscorer with five goals in four matches.
The striker, who scored a hat-trick on Sunday, is expected to start at Inter, but he might not be as sharp as he generally is. His substitute Luka Jovic is part of the traveling squad, but we do not expect him to start at the San Siro against Inter.