Hazard ruled out of Real Madrid's crucial Champions League clash against Shakhtar but Benzema returns

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Eden Hazard Real Madrid 2020-21Getty Images

Eden Hazard has been ruled out of Real Madrid’s Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk on account of injury, but Karim Benzema is back in the fold.

Belgium international Hazard arrived at Real in the summer of 2019 to much acclaim, but has had a stop-start time in Madrid on account of injury.

Injury struck again at the weekend, as Hazard limped off against Alaves in La Liga.

He lasted only 30 minutes of the shock 2-1 loss at home, after which manager Zinedine Zidane gave an injury update.

"I think and hope it's just a knock," Zidane said at his post-game press conference. "I hope it's not muscular."

It may be that Zidane’s hopes are realised and the problem is only a knock, but with a mere three-day turnaround between the two games, Hazard has not been included in the 21-man squad for Tuesday's match.

Zidane expressed concern with his side’s form following the defeat to Alaves.

"I don't have an explanation," Zidane said. "Tonight we alternated good moments with bad moments. When they scored a goal after three minutes, things got very complicated for us.

"The other day in Milan we played a good game and today...It is reality, our reality today. What we have to do is keep working, recover players and change the dynamics. We don't have consistency."

Benzema could provide the French coach with that change in dynamics after being included for the trip to Ukraine.

The French forward has not featured for Real since scoring against Valencia on November 8 due to injury, but he has come through training and will travel with the squad for a game that will see them progress to the knockout stages with a win.

His presence at the head of the attack will be a welcome addition to Zidane.

Real trail Borussia Monchengladbach at the top of Champions League Group B, but two wins from their final pair of games - against Shakhtar and the German side - would guarantee their progression as pool winners.

However, a trip to Ukraine in winter is never a welcome one - especially for a side who have won only one of their previous four outings in all competitions.