Soccer

Real Madrid stars Hazard & Bale deserve respect as world-class performers, says Pacheco

The Alaves goalkeeper, who is a product of the Blancos’ famed academy system, is preparing to face familiar faces on Saturday

Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale remain “world-class” talents, says Fernando Pacheco, with the Alaves goalkeeper – who is a product of Real Madrid’s academy system – prepared to give two proven performers the “respect” they deserve.

Pacheco is readying himself for a meeting with the Blancos on Saturday, with the new La Liga season getting underway.

He could be in for a busy evening, despite a lack of transfer activity at Santiago Bernabeu, with a man who spent nine years in the Spanish capital between 2006 and 2015 aware that Carlo Ancelotti has plenty of match-winning talent at his disposal.

What has been said?

Pacheco, who made just two senior appearances for Real, has told Goal of facing a Madrid side that has lost the likes of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane this summer: “Everything has been a bit strange, with the coronavirus and having many injuries. 

“They have also lost important players, but we must see how Hazard or Bale perform this season. If they do it at their level, they are world-class. You have to have respect for them because they have earned it. 

“I always say the same thing: I’ve seen Bale train and, if he’s okay, he’s one of the best in the world.”

Who else does Pacheco rate?

Thibaut Courtois Real Madrid 2020-21

The 29-year-old saw his route to the first-team with Real blocked by seasoned international performers, forcing him to go in search of game time elsewhere.

Madrid have continued to snap up highly-rated shot-stoppers in his absence, with Belgium international Thibaut Courtois currently filling a role between the sticks.

Pacheco said of the Blancos’ No.1: “For me he was the best goalkeeper in the league last year and I put him among the best in the world.”

Is Ancelotti the right man for Real?

It is not just on the field that Real have been forced to make changes in 2021, with a managerial baton also changing hands.

Zinedine Zidane walked away from the final year of his contract at the end of last season, clearing a path for Italian tactician Ancelotti to return to the Bernabeu for a second spell.

Pacheco was with the Blancos during his last stint, which delivered a fabled La Decima Champions League triumph, and believes a coach with a distinguished CV will succeed in the most demanding of roles.

He said when asked if Ancelotti’s return was something of a surprise: “No, because the year I was with him he seemed like a top coach. His career supports it. 

“He seemed to me to be a trainer with phenomenal know-how about how to manage a locker room. He treated me very well and I am very grateful to him.”

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