To football fans and the observing populace all over the world, it came as a complete shocker when at the end of the 17/18 season, Real Madrid’s coach, Zinedine Zidane, decided to quit after two and half successful years at the club winning; 3 Champions League titles back to back to back (with Real Madrid being the first team to achieve this feat in the competition’s era). In addition to two Club World Cups, two UEFA Super Cups, one LaLiga title and one Supercopa de Espana.
His decision left many stunned as it came days after their third Champions League triumph over Liverpool at Istanbul when most thought he would be skimming how to successively retain the title the following season. Before his announcement, one of his star players, the 5 time Ballon D’or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo, had previously announced his intention to leave to another league to start up a new challenge. Seeing these two great depatures, the Madrid chiefs brought in a Spanish tactician, Julen Lopetegui who at that time was on an official duty with the Spanish national team at the World Cup.
Fast forward to the start of the season, the team started pretty good, unfazed by the departures that shook them prior to the new season. Shortly into the season, results started going against them with the team’s performance equally abysmal. Four months after, Fiorentino Perez showed Lopetegui the exit doors and named Solari as his replacement. Similarly, Solari started not so good as he lost his first game, but the team’s performance felt like there was a spark igniting somewhere in the team. Performances kept looking good till it all went nose diving down the hill again with the Madrid calibre results hardly coming by and a Champions League qualification spot looking threatened.
Faced with this new reality, the Madrid chiefs saw the need to react unusual to get the team back on track after falling out of every chance a trophy this season. Then, Solari was also sacked and Zidane called back to take over reigns. Ever since, results have been fine, at least better than under the two previous coaches, but the team still lacks the ‘razor-cutting edge‘ quality in front of goal that Cristiano Ronaldo offered.
Zidane knows it would be a tougher period this time around at the club without his goal machine. With him currently steadying things at the club, let’s keep our finger crossed to what plans he has during the transfer window, as it is speculated he plans on landing Chelsea’s prized asset, Eden Hazard and Manchester United’s midfielder, Paul Pogba. Anything short of a stellar performance from Madrid come next season, Zidane might just join the leagues of his predecessors at the club as the Club top hierarchies are not fondly known to be patient.
What are your predictions for Zidane and Madrid in this new era without Ronaldo??