A hero at the club as a player and a legend in the managerial hot seat, everything is on the line for Zidane in his second stint as manager.
Four La Liga titles in five years meant Real Madrid were at the top of the world. Three under Zinedine Zidane was more than euphoric. The Frenchman was Los Blancos’ answer to Barcelona’s managerial conveyor belt.
His success in Europe and La Liga would measure up to Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique. The duo had success as players and managers at the Camp Nou. Zidane had rewritten the history books with his exploits in Champions League.
And it is on this note that he left the Santiago Bernabeu. Zidane had nothing to prove in the Spanish capital and a Champions League win was the best time to leave.
As a manager you do not dictate how you leave. The Frenchman was leaving on a high and without any grudges. Not many can lay claim to such circumstances. But the two-time Ballon d’Or winner could.
His departure coincided with Cristiano Ronaldo leaving. A vacuum of 40+ goals was left and no credible reinforcement brought in. It was a recipe for disaster. And disaster it was.
Turmoil in Madrid
Real Madrid were inconsistent under Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari. And Zidane would return. For the second time he would take the reigns of a struggling Real Madrid. Could he reinvigorate the Spanish giants and take them to glory. As it stands, second time is not the charm.
Los Blancos have continued to struggle under the Champions League winning manager. They are joint top of La Liga points table but look uncomfortable there.
Players of his recommendation have made it to Madrid but have failed to integrate. Eden Hazard has found life difficult. While young Brazilian imports, Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior have failed to become regulars in the starting eleven.
Moreover, the old guard is aging fast and have failed to uphold the standards that made their European winners. Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Isco and Gareth Bale are all on the fringes of first team. Only Karim Benzema and Dani Carvajal have managed to keep a hold of their first team roles.
And this has been seen in their league and European performances. They were dumped out of Champions League by Ajax last year and have spectacularly failed against PSG in the group stages this year.
Failure in La Liga and Champions League this year will greatly tarnish Zinedine Zidane’s legacy. And Madrid’s unimpressive performances point towards this inevitable result.
The Frenchman should have left with his head held high and without regrets, when he had the time.