Rated! Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid so far, in the key areas
Real Madrid are champions of Europe – not bad considering the team’s circumstances just five months ago when they looked more like corpses treading water through a lost season. In what at the time may have been a knee-jerk reaction, Florentino Perez sacked Rafa Benitez and threw club legend Zinedine Zidane into the fire.
Zidane came in as a raw manager. He inspired the players to churn out the club’s 11th Champions League title while making a downright euphoric near-comeback in La Liga.
But what Real Madrid have done under Zidane has been quite remarkable, and few are giving them credit for their success. Some have claimed that Madrid's path to the final was easy and that Atletico deserved it more, but they did ultimately slay their city rivals who tournament favorites Barcelona and Bayern Munich failed to hurdle past.
Zidane came in as a raw manager. He ends the season with the club’s 11th Champions League title, and having come close to a sensational comeback in La Liga – all without his team truly reaching their peak. Here’s a review of his evolution as head coach in first season in charge...
Every piece of advice he gives you is like gold dust and it helps you improve on the pitch
You don’t have to call him a brilliant tactician, but Zidane made history when he helped Real Madrid lift ‘La Undecima’ – and if it wasn’t his tactics, it was his ability to inspire that carried the team to it.
Zidane’s best asset has been his ability to bring out the best in his players. Naturally, when you’re one of the best players to ever kick a football, you will reap respect – a sharp 180-turn from Rafa Benitez who the players reportedly mocked for never having played relevant football.
"Every piece of advice he gives you is like gold dust and it helps you improve on the pitch," said Luka Modric. "Zinedine was an idol, one of the players I admired as a child. I think every young player admired him because he was one of the best of his generation."
That ability to inspire, the feeling it instills and the success it brings – it’s real. Though it may not seem tangible, it’s the same asset that Real Madrid’s two previous Champions League-winning coaches, Vicente del Bosque and Carlo Ancelotti, had. Managing a conglomerate of stars takes a leader, and both Del Bosque and Ancelotti were able to channel their squad’s talent while unleashing it on their poor European counterparts. Zidane looks to be of that same mould.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing under Zidane, particularly from a tactical standpoint, but the results speaks for themselves - Champions of Europe, and one point off of the La Liga title race.
It started with the Frenchman's first game in charge – a manita (when a team scores five goals) over Deportivo La Coruna at the Bernabeu. From there, Real Madrid looked a little less mechanical with the ball. The players played with a sense of purpose, and they attack in ways that a team with their star power should. It hasn’t been smooth sailing under Zidane, particularly from a tactical standpoint, but the results speaks for themselves – champions of Europe, and one point off in the La Liga title race.
Zizou's tactics and results rated on the next page...