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The Zizou Era – Real Madrid Under Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane goes down in history as one of the greatest midfielders who ever graced a football pitch. Now the French International has been given the chance to become one of the greatest managers after taking over the reins from Rafael Benitez, who came under criticism from the Real Madrid president after he believed the results just weren’t good enough. Real Madrid has a homely feel for Zinedine as he spent the final stages of his career at the capital club from 2001 to 2006. Also his 4 children Enzo, Luca, Theo and Elyaz all represent Real Madrid in their age groups respectively.

Zidane understands the hunger and pressure for Silverware in Madrid as he managed to be in the squad that earned 5 major trophies. The immense pressure for success in the Spanish Capital is no secret. Carlo Ancelotti was relieved of his duties in two years despite winning the Champions League, Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup and also the Copa Del Rey. The board and president claimed “at this club the demands are huge and we need a new impulse in order to win trophies and be at our best” despite Carlo leading them to the famous La Decima. Zidane and Ancelotti worked together during the 2013-2014 season after Zidane was appointed to assistant manager. However, Zizou was to lose his place as assistant manager to make way for Fabio Pecchia under the short lived Benitez era. Benitez was to spend only 8 months at the Bernabeu, 3rd in La Liga, top of the UEFA Champions League group stage but out of the Copa Del Rey due to fielding an illegible player. Not being too far away from the club Zidane was still in the managerial seat, this time at Real Madrid Castilla (Real Madrid’s B Team), although it came with some controversy as it was believed he didn’t have official coaching badges to manage a team. With Real Madrid B Zidane was in charge of 57 games, winning 26 games, drawing 17 and losing 14.

As of January the 4th Zinadine Zidane was unveiled as Real Madrid’s new head coach immediately following the dismissal of Rafa Benitez. He was welcomed to much appraisal from past team-mates, fans and the President Floriento Perez. His first game came against Deportivo La Coruna only five days later. His first game saw a rather fitting 4-2-3-1 formation playing Benzema as a lone striker with the attacking support of Isco, Bale and Ronaldo. It proved to be a brilliant start for Zizou as they ran out 5-0 winners with Bale earning a hat-trick and a double for Benzema. 7 days later Madrid come up against Sporting de Gijon again at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. A slight change in formation for this game, he chose to start with a 4 3 3 having 3 attackers and 3 midfielders with Isco falling back and the usual BBC (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano) attacking up the field. Real Madrid scored 5 again at home and all within the first half, with all 3 attackers grabbing goals and Ronaldo and Benzema with two goals on the score sheet. An unchanged Real Madrid travelled away to Betis on the 24th of January for the Frenchman’s first away fixture. Until Benzema’s equalizer in the 71st minute los blancos were trailing 1-0 to Betis. The game ended 1-1 as they struggled to grab a late winner. Losing Gareth Bale to Injury James Rodriguez started in the attacking 3 to face Espanyol at home in La Liga. Their impressive home form continued as they easily beat Espanyol 6-0 with Ronaldo netting another hat-trick. The latest game saw Real Madrid travel to Granada with the same 4 3 3 formation and an identical squad that featured in the Espanyol victory. Benzema saw them break the deadlock in the 30th minute, although Granada equalized in the 60th minute. The game was arguably even, until Luka Modric fired home the winner in the 85th minute to snatch 3 points and earn Zidane his first away victory in La Liga.

He certainly has an impressive record already. Under Zidane Madrid have never lost a competitive fixture, which will leave the Galactico’s full of confidence in the new footballing philosophy that is being introduced by the head coach. Their next La Liga fixture sees them face Athletic Bilbao at the famous Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, which many will be anticipating plenty of goals with 16 being scored in 3 games. Already being eliminated from the Copa Del Rey due to disqualification the two main targets for Zizou are to narrow the gap on the neighbours Atletico Madrid and bitter Rivals F.C Barcelona. The 27th of February and 3rd of April could well prove vital as they face Atletico at home for El Derbi Madrileno and FC Barcelona in the famous El Classico at the Catalan homeland of the Camp Nou. Another priceless piece of silverware is the UEFA Champions League. Mardid finished on top of the group with 16 points and drew AS Roma in the next stage. On 17th of February they travel to the Italian Capital in the first leg, and then return to the Spanish Capital for the second leg on the 8th of March. They still prove dominant under Zidane, and he will want to take his unbeaten run Internationally in the Champions League.

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