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.”
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