For so many years, the 5-time Balon D’or winner was the star, x-factor and saviour for Real Madrid as a clearly limited team raked in three consecutive UEFA Champions League titles under Zinedine Zidane but a new Belgian star has been brought in to replace him.
Together, Cristiano and Zidane were so successful it felt like a match made in heaven – the iconic French legend guiding and unleashing the unstoppable Portuguese against the rest of the world.
Coincidence or not, but both legendary figures departed the Bernabeu the same summer to create such a huge void that no replacement or formation could be quickly or adequately imported to fill it.
Subsequently, Los Merengues endured such a woeful campaign that if possible they would gladly expunge it from the club’s proud history books.
As fate would have it, Zinedine Zidane has returned to help stem the rot and restore the glory days. But with Cristiano Ronaldo having moved on to Italy with no intentions of looking back, the Whites have secured another talismanic forward, Eden Hazard, to take up the Number 7 jersey the Portuguese left behind.
But can the brilliant Belgian fill the chasm created by the absence of CR7?
It’s not up for debate, Eden Hazard is an amazing talent.
For the last few years, the former Chelsea playmaker was one of the best players in the English league and the finest in London. Two Premier League titles and a Europa League trophy points to a successful time in England.
The Belgian was in most matches the Blues goto man, rescuing them with matchwinning goals and supplying such incredible assists that other creative players would only imagine in their dreams.
10 minutes of Eden Hazard 2014/15 carrying Chelsea to the Premier League title, one of the greatest individual seasons of Premier League modern Era! pic.twitter.com/l6RENikXFZ
— Rk (@RkFutbol) June 16, 2019
In his last season in west London, Hazard got more goals and assists than any other Chelsea player and he was worth every penny and a bit more of the 100 million euros Real paid to Chelsea for him.
What Los Blancos fans are getting with Eden Hazard in their team is not just a magician who can change the game with a sudden change of direction – which comes handy every now and then – but also a maestro who can grab a game by the scruff of the neck and force an opponent to submission. Hazard’s the complete package and fans will adore him to no end.
Does that mean the former Lille midfielder would be what Cristiano was to Los Vikingos?
That, without any hint of doubt, is impossible. With who do you replace Superman?
Ronaldo is not a superstar. He’s super-human. That’s what you call a man who has won the Balon D’or 5 times, more than the lot won by Zinedine Zidane, Kaka, Ronaldinho, Luis Figo and Diego Maradona combined; lifted five UEFA Champions League trophies with two different clubs; and scored at least 40 goals in eight of his nine seasons in Spain.
At age 34, the Juventus striker is still producing more goals than the Belgium international ever did at any point in his career.
Cristiano Ronaldo was directly involved in 581 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid.
— 433 Formation (@433Formation) August 16, 2019
Cristiano only spent a few years in the English Premier League but by the time he left, he had plundered 84 league goals in 196 appearances. It took Hazard more than 200 matches and the best part of a decade to reach that figure.
In the Champions League where he is the god, Cristiano has so far found the back of the net 126 times providing another 44 assists in just 162 matches. Chelsea fans will forever cherish the 8 goals and 13 assists Hazard got for them in his time there but it is not anywhere close to what Real Madrid fans are used to from their irreplaceable Portuguese.
By the time CR7 departed for Italy, he had amassed 311 La Liga goals and 95 assists in just 292 games.
That translates to a goal-to-game ratio of 1.1 – more than a goal for every game played.
That’s a totally unfair and ridiculously impossible target to set for Eden Hazard. No one can match that. No one else in football today, not even the extraterrestrial Messi (La Liga goal-to-game ratio of 0.9), can surpass that.
For context, in all his La Liga glory Diego Maradona only had a 0.4 goal-to-game ratio. That’s less than a strike in every two games.
Looking purely at the stats, it would take three Eden Hazards and an extra to fill the Ronaldo void. Completely ignoring the numbers, the Real Madrid president and fans would readily swap the Belgian ball-juggler for the Juventus juggernaut this very evening.
We saw this Real Madrid after a very long time and Karim Benzema is a class with his movement inside the box. 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/GiBXJ556PP
— Nāveḍ. 🏹 (@FalconOfQuraysh) August 17, 2019
Real Madrid boss Zidane knows this. And he won’t saddle Eden Hazard with the unreasonable burden of being the new Cristiano. As Real Madrid’s Benzema-inspired win at Celta Vigo on Saturday showed, Hazard, will only be one of the many superstars capable of lifting La Casa Blanca to new heights. And that should do for now.