By Tim Stannard
Eden Hazard suffers wrath of Real Madrid fans after celebrating with Chelsea players after Champions League defeat
When it comes to the Champions League, the smartest thing for a club with lofty aspirations to do is to have an early exit in the knockout stages - hello, Barcelona and Juventus.
While everyone is very upset about it for a few days and calls CRISIS! it all tends to be forgotten about soon after when something shinier comes along. As one of the greatest Americans alive declared - "trying is the first step to failure."
That has to be better than the mistake of reaching the semifinals but stumbling for a mass crisis to be called in the media. That was the situation for PSG on Tuesday and now with Real Madrid a day later following the Spanish side's 3-1 aggregate defeat to a fresh, perky and defensively-sound Chelsea in a result that Coach Zizou admits was fair game with no complaints.
The good news for Zinedine Zidane though is that a dastardly outsider scapegoat has been found by the Spanish media to distract everyone from lackadaisical locals like Isco and Marco Asensio. Rather than Gareth Bale being an injured waste of money from foreign parts who doesn't feel the colors, it's Eden Hazard who is the target of some hysteria in Spain.
There is something quite glorious about the rest of the world discovering El Chringuito over the last few weeks. https://t.co/glkj0pseVU— The Spanish Football Podcast (@tsf_podcast) May 6, 2021
Hazard is being blamed for a) costing too much money, b) being injured all the time, c) not doing anything useful when actually playing and most critically of all, d) looking very happy indeed when congratulating his former teammates after the game. At least there was no "Belgium. Waffles. Madrid. In that order" banner whipped out by the failing forward.
While Zidane was protective of Hazard as ever saying that the footballer "has to to play to gain confidence, little by little" the Real Madrid coach will be slightly relieved that fans are not yet in the grounds in Spain as the reception from a full Bernabeu on Sunday against Sevilla for Hazard would not have been pleasant listening.
Instead, Hazard does have a chance to try and win back a few detractors unless the Belgian decides to go all in with a Gareth Bale style flag at the end of the game. Real Madrid vs. Sevilla is live on beIN SPORTS on Sunday from 2:30PM ET / 11:30AM PT.
Can Unai Emery save soccer?
Unai Emery has a mission on Thursday - to prevent an all English Champions League final and Europa League final. The Champions League finale has been set for a meeting between Manchester City and Chelsea in Istanbul and only Villarreal stand in the way of a meeting between Manchester United and Arsenal in the Europa League final. Sorry, Roma but it isn't happening.
There are two things standing in the way of that eventuality. The first is that Villarreal are at the Emirates today holding a 2-1 advantage from the first leg. The second is that Unai Emery, coach of Villarreal is literally Mr Europa League. Well, not literally. He's Mr Emery. But it's close.
Coach Emery has won three Europa League titles with Sevilla and even took Arsenal to the final in 2019. However, despite holding a 2-1 advantage from the first leg, the Villarreal man says the Gunners are still in the driving seat under the mistake that Arsenal are actually any good.
Colombia moves to Paraguay for Copa Lib clashes
The organizers of the Copa Libertadores have had an extra challenge to deal with to add to the already demanding restrictions of the COVID-19 epidemic across South America. Civil unrest in Colombia has seen games that were set to be played in the country this week being swiftly moved to Paraguay.
In the case of Sante Fe and River Plate, the match that was supposed to be taking place in Bogota on Wednesday is now taking place 2,300 miles away in Asuncion, Paraguay on Thursday. That match gets underway at 8PM ET / 5PM PT live on beIN SPORTS. Preceding that match, is an almost identical scenario - an exiled Colombian team against an Argentinean side that had to change its travel plans rather rapidly.
The week any soccer lover has dreamt about continues on beIN SPORTS! 🔥⚽️ pic.twitter.com/gVEgERVDty— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) May 6, 2021
Those teams are Atletico Nacional vs. Argentinos Juniors who get underway also in Asuncion - at a different stadium, helpfully - from 6PM ET / 3PM PT live on beIN SPORTS.
As for Wednesday's matches in match day three of the competition, Internacional were the biggest winners - quite literally - with a 6-1 demolition of Olimpia.