The Financial Express

Madrid’s Zidane, Zidane’s Madrid

| Updated: June 11, 2021 21:57:26

Football - La Liga Santander - Real Madrid v Villarreal - Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, Madrid, Spain - May 22, 2021 Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane REUTERS Football - La Liga Santander - Real Madrid v Villarreal - Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, Madrid, Spain - May 22, 2021 Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane REUTERS

The second spell of Zidane with the Los Blancos has ended. Unlike his first spell, it didn’t end in a majestic manner. With the second spell having its highs and lows, it is no doubt that Zidane has established himself as a Real Madrid legend, both as a player and a manager. Taking charge of Real Madrid in March 2019, the second spell was not as amazing as the first, mainly because he had set the bar so high during the first spell.

Starting his managerial career as an assistant coach under Ancellotti, Zidane did learn the intricate skill of man-management from the veteran. Taking charge of a Madrid team after the tough spell under Benitez, Zidane had a rough mountain to climb ahead. However, his amazing man management skills had effectively set the tone of the dressing room for a mega successful run which saw Real Madrid winning hattrick UCL under him.

The dream run in his first spell was not anything less than a fairy tale. The fiery attacks from the BBC trio (Bale, Benzema and Cristiano) along with a solid defence had helped ensure the three-peat. Under him, specially in the first season, speed of the game was eye-catching and somewhat reminded Mourinho’s Real Madrid stint. However, Zidane had even bettered the ex-veteran. He seemed to be the perfect blend of Ancellotis man management and Mourinho’s aggressive style of play.

Although the second spell was lacklustre compared to his first spell, the adverse situation had shown the world how good Zidane can work with minimum resources. Many pundits had termed Zidane’s success lucky, and the argument was Zidane had the best player for every position. But the numbers hardly agree with that proposition as the three-peat of UCL win pushes luck out of the equation. Zidane winning the league with a team on the rebuilding phase, to putting a fight for the title even with a record number of injuries has showcased his managerial calibre.

Tactically, Zidane mostly had played with the 4-3-3 attacking formation. The use of players in right positions, and especially the transition of Lucas Vazquez from right-wing to right-back turned some eyeballs. At the end of the season, Lucas Vazquez turning into a solid right back, Blanco and Miguel making it into the main team from Castilla showcased what a good eye Zidane has for talents.

The rise of Valverde, solid Casemiro as a holding midfielder, and Benzema in fiery form also had been the highlight of the last season. Zidane had always placed his trust in Benzema, and his sublime form clearly showcases Zidane's outstanding decision-making.

Real might've not won loads of trophies in his second spell, but the domination in El Classico was a treat for the fans. Zidane was tactically superior in most of the classico games. The tactical performance in the quarterfinal game against Liverpool with an injury-struck side showed his adaptability and genius.

Zidane’s two spells were contrasting in the two seasons in terms of title wins. His second spell boasts winning the La Liga and Spanish Super Cup in the 2019/20 season. It would be harsh to judge on the basis of titles, considering the number of adversities Zidane had to face in this period. Playing major matches by borrowing players from the Castilla clearly showcases the challenges Zidane had to go through on his second spell.

Zidane doesn't have a trademark tactical style of play like Pep's Tiki-taka or Klopp's Gegenpressing. His attacking form of play, which requires pressing and a high line of defence, looked somewhat shaky mainly because of losing key players to injury and an ageing squad. In spite of not having a trademark style of play, Zidane almost always gets the job done in his own style.

No doubt, Zidane has left Real Madrid with a legacy and he will go down in history as its most successful manager. And the standards he had set as a player clearly allowed us to undermine his managerial prowess. But he will be the most decorated Madrista for a long time.

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