Real Madrid's Hazard injured again; to miss Atletico derby

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Zinedine Zidane has denied that "stress" is responsible for Eden Hazard's persistent injury issues.

The Real Madrid coach was responding to claims from Belgium's national team doctor after the forward was ruled out for at least three weeks with a thigh problem.

Dr. Kris van Crombrugge told the country's Het Laatste Nieuws that Hazard's mental state after a frustrating debut season at the Bernabeu could make him more injury prone.

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"No, what are you talking about?" Zidane said at a news conference on Monday ahead of Real Madrid's Champions League game with Shakhtar Donetsk in Kiev. "[Hazard] is really strong. He's always shown it. It's another injury, and it's a shame for him and for us. But it's happening in a lot of teams.

"It's a difficult situation for Eden. We want to see him with us. We have to accept it. He had hardly got injured during his entire career, and then he had the injury that bothered him for a while, and now he's injured again. I'm sure he'll come back stronger."

Hazard was substituted after 28 minutes in Madrid's 2-1 La Liga defeat to Alaves on Saturday.

Initial tests carried out on Sunday were inconclusive, but a scan on Monday morning confirmed that the Belgium international had damaged his thigh.

"Following tests carried out today on our player, Eden Hazard, by Real Madrid Medical Services, he has been diagnosed with an injury in the rectus femoris muscle of his right leg," the club said in a statement. "His recovery will continue to be assessed."

Sources told ESPN that Hazard is expected to be out for at least the next three weeks.

That would see the forward miss tough La Liga fixtures with top-four contenders Sevilla on Dec. 5, and the derby with Atletico on Dec. 12, followed by games with Athletic Bilbao and Eibar. Diego Simeone's Atletico are six points ahead of Madrid in the table, with a game in hand.

In the Champions League, Madrid play Shakhtar Donetsk in Kiev on Tuesday and then host Borussia Monchengladbach on Dec. 9, with qualification from group B not yet confirmed.

Ahead of Tuesday's game they are second in the group, a point behind Monchengladbach, and three ahead of Shakhtar.

Madrid are also without captain Sergio Ramos and right-back Dani Carvajal through injury, although striker Karim Benzema is back in the squad for the trip to Ukraine.

Hazard had started three games in a week for Real Madrid, and there were positive signs that he was finally starting to find some form, scoring from the penalty spot in a 2-0 win over Inter Milan last week.

He had only just returned to the team after testing positive for the coronavirus, and before that was absent for a month with another muscular problem.

Hazard's first season at the Bernabeu was, by his own admission, a huge disappointment, with two ankle fractures limiting him to 16 La Liga appearances and just one goal.