Real Madrid secured a narrow 1-0 win over Red Bull Salzburg in their penultimate pre-season friendly on Wednesday thanks to a sole Eden Hazard strike, his first goal for the La Liga side.
Having initially struggled with the home side’s high pressing, Los Blancos began to settle into the game, willing to hit their Austrian opponents on the break when possible. The tactic paid dividends in the 19th minute as Hazard cut in from the left and curled a powerful shot into the right hand corner, despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to his effort.
Takumi Minamino should have drawn the home side level but failed to hit the target from just six yards out as the game began to open up ahead of half-time.
Undeterred, Die Roten Bullen continued to create chances in the second half, but some wayward finishing stunted their efforts to draw level. A host of changes from the home side appeared to provide an injection of energy, with the Austrian outfit dominating the second period.
Continuous pressure rained in on the Madrid backline, but they held firm to secure a much-needed pre-season win and ease the pressure somewhat on manager Zinedine Zidane.
RED BULL SALZBURG
Starting XI: Stankovic (5); Nissen (5), Ramalho (5), Onguene (6), Ulmer (7); Takumi (5), Samassekou (5), Bernede (6), Szoboszlai (6); Koita (5), Haland (6).
Substitutes: Mensah (6), Van der Werff (5), Ashimeru (5), Hee-chan (6), Junuzovic (7), Camara (7), Daka (7), Farkas (6), Coronel (6), Okugawa (5), Mwepu (N/A).
Key Talking Point
He’s gone close on a number of occasions this summer, but Hazard finally scored his first goal for his new club on Wednesday night.
After a fairly dismal pre-season to date, Zidane would have been desperately hoping for convincing win to ease the burden laying heavy on his shoulders. Opting to use a 3-4-2-1 formation, it seemed the Frenchman was keen to utilise his attacking options to full effect. Coming under heavy pressure in the opening exchanges, Madrid grew into the match and made their pace on the break count for Hazard’s opener.
That wasn’t the case for the second half, however. Looking physically jaded, Madrid were outmuscled and outfought in most areas of the pitch, with the fresh legs of their heavily changed counterparts causing them all sorts of problems. Defending resolutely, albeit with some wayward finishing, Madrid held on, although Zidane is still left with a squad that needs plenty of tinkering ahead of the start of La Liga.
Starting XI: Courtois (6); Militao (5), Ramos (6), Varane (6); Marcelo (7), Kroos (6), Casemiro (7), Carvajal (6); Isco (6), Benzema (7), Hazard (7*).
Substitutes: Nacho (7), Valverde (6), Vazquez (5), Jovic (4), Odriozola (5), Vinicius (6).
STAR MAN – Operating as a left sided forward in a 3-4-2-1 formation, Eden Hazard flourished and caused the Austrian side countless problems during his time on the pitch.
His Madrid career hasn’t got off to the perfect start, but his goal and performance on Wednesday will not only have done him the world of good, but his manager too, who has seen the pressure on his shoulders mount in recent weeks.
OMG! Hazard scores his first goal for Real Madrid.
Spain ain’t seen nothing yet. By the time Hazard turns La Liga to to garden of Eden they will hear something.
— #BBnaija VAR (@chykmoni) August 7, 2019
Hazard is going to tear up la liga.
— TRIPLE C£ (@khalid_s9) August 7, 2019
With pre-season now over for Red Bull Salzburg, they turn to league action as they play host to Wolfsberg at the curtain raiser for the Austrian Bundesliga.
For Los Blancos, pre-season continues as they jet off to the Italian capital to take on Roma at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening.