Bayern Munich spoiled Eden Hazard’s Real Madrid debut, downing the Spanish giants 3-1 in a friendly in Houston Saturday despite goalkeeper Sven Ulreich’s sending off.
Corentin Tolisso, Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry had given Bundesliga champions Bayern a comfortable 3-0 lead before recent Real Madrid signing Rodrygo grabbed a consolation goal with a brilliant free kick.
That followed Ulreich’s departure late on for a foul on Brazilian teen Rodrygo outside the area.
Rodrygo, Luka Jovic and Ferland Mendy all made their debuts for rebuilding Real, all coming on at half-time as Zinedine Zidane changed his entire side.
Hazard’s first outing in a Madrid jersey since his high-priced move from Chelsea had dominated the headlines.
But despite getting a starting nod he made little impact at the NRG Stadium.
It needed a stellar display from Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to keep Los Blancos at bay, but Bayern led at the interval thanks to Tolisso’s 15th-minute strike.
Thomas Muller freed Kingsley Coman whose cross made it to Tolisso who was denied by Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois on his first attempt but slotted home the rebound.
Karim Benzema let a golden chance go begging in the 43rd, meeting a cross from Isco but knocking his effort wide.
Neuer came up with another impressive save just before the interval, diving to his right to grab Luka Modric’s effort from 10 yards out.
Courtois fended off a rocket from Coman in first-half injury time to keep Bayern from stretching their advantage before the break.
While Madrid applied plenty of pressure, Hazard was circumspect, often opting to pass off to his new team-mates.
The closest the 28-year old Belgian came to his first Real goal was in the 39th minute, when he found space on the left and bent a shot toward the far post only for Neuer to punch it away.
Zidane’s wholesale changes at the interval did nothing to further Madrid’s cause, even though they controlled possession early in the second half.
Lewandowski doubled Bayern’s lead in the 67th controlling a high ball from Niklas Sule, turning and firing into the bottom corner.
Two minutes later Madrid gave the ball away deep in their own end and an unmarked Gnabry was able to control the ball and fire past Keylor Navas in goal.
Zinedine Zidane ‘hopes’ that Gareth Bale will be out of the exit door sooner rather than later, having revealed Real Madrid are busy trying to secure him a move away from the club.
The Wales star did not feature in Madrid’s opening preseason game against Bayern Munich, with Los Blancos falling to a 3-1 defeat in Houston.
Bale had seen any remaining influence at the club evaporate once Zidane was re-appointed as manager in March, but this is the first time that the Frenchman has been so open about the player’s future.
Though Zidane stresses his decision is not personal, the end is nigh at the Bernabeu for a forward who only last year was named man-of-the-match against Liverpool as Real won the Champions League trophy for a third time in a row.
“Bale did not play because he is very close to leaving,” Zidane said, per ESPN. “We hope he leaves soon. It would be best for everyone. We are working on his transfer to a new team.
“I have nothing personal against him, but there comes a time where things are done because they must be done, I have to make decisions. We have to change.
“The exit is the coach’s decision, and also of the player, who knows the situation.
“The situation will change, I do not know if in 24 or 48 hours, but it will, and it’s a good thing for everyone.”
Real Madrid defender Marcelo claims new signing Eden Hazard just isn’t as good as Neymar.
The Brazilian says he would welcome his national team-mate to the Santiago Bernabeu even though he’s reportedly plotting a move from Paris Saint-Germain to Barcelona.
Former Chelsea winger Hazard is so far Madrid’s biggest during a busy transfer window as he joined last month for a €100 million fee.
Marcelo recognises Hazard has the quality to be among the best in the world but insisted that Neymar is the superior player.
“Eden’s a top player,” he said in an interview with Marca.
“A player of high quality and, like Neymar, has the quality to be in the top five.
“He’s impressive, you cannot compare them, but Neymar is better for me.”
Barcelona remain the favourites to sign Neymar this summer, a move that would reunite him with the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez while also linking up with new signing Antoine Griezmann.
Neymar featured for the Blaugrana from 2013-17, scoring 105 goals in 186 games before joining PSG for a world record €222m.
Marcelo though is keen to put aside Neymar’s Barcelona past and welcome him to the Santiago Bernabeu.
“Neymar is an unpredictable player,” Marcelo said.
“When defending when you have anticipated something, he has already thought of something else and it’s impossible to defend.
“Having Neymar at Real Madrid would be a huge pleasure. Madrid have to do everything to sign the best players in the world and his past at Barcelona would not be a problem.”