The boys of Zinedine Zidane are enjoying the winning momentum. Not so long ago the atmosphere at Santiago Bernabeu was gloomy. Their biggest star in the history left a vacuum, which was getting tough for Real Madrid to fill. The boss Florentino Perez wanted to change and called on the master Zidane to fix things. Zidane’s start was scratchy, but gradually he has stabilized matters in Bernabeu. This time around Zidane is not just a man-manager, but one could witness his tactical sharpness.

The Madrid Deby might not be as high-voltage as the El Clasico, but the competitive nature always persists between the two teams whenever they face each other.

As usual, Zidane packed the midfield with five men. So far this tactic worked well for Zidane, but Simione is someone who studied this plan well and thus, closed the passing lanes and snuffed out space. Atletico Madrid has been one of the best defensive sides for the last ten years or so. Even if they play with an attacking formation, their defensive prowesses still dominate and continue to frustrate the rhythm of the opposition.

Still, Toni Kroos broke through the shackles in the first half and created two good opportunities for Sergio Ramos. One of them was a clear-ut chance, which was wasted. Atletico defended well. Renan Lodi and Saul proved tough nuts on the flanks.

Atleti looked dangerous and took the upper hand in the first half – Real Madrid were certainly second best before the break and fortunate not to have gone behind, with Vitolo going close and Angel Correa hitting the woodwork.

Zidane realized that focusing on compactness would not fetch him anything good. He needs to create enough width to create chances for goals. Thus, in the second half, he substituted Kroos and Isco – something which Real have not been familiar with in recent times – and brought on Vinicius Junior and Lucas Vazquez.

This proved to be a shrewd move as the effects were evident immediately.

Real Madrid needed someone to link-up with Mendy on the left side, something they didn’t get with Isco sitting deeper. Vinicius entered, linked-up well with Mendy and created width – his tempo completely changed the game. He unlocked the match with a through-ball to Ferland Mendy. Mendy provided the ball on the plate for Karim Benzema to score his first-ever goal in a Madrid Derby at Bernabeu.

Real Madrid won and are now six points clear of Barcelona. The Madrid Derby could have ended in a draw they way Atletic locked down Real’s passing lane and pressed them on the counter. But Zidane’s tactical move in the second half changed the scenario.

In the post-match presser, Zidane said, “I was not happy with what I saw on the pitch in the first half. But it was not the players’ fault, it was my responsibility. So I changed Isco and Toni [Kroos], but it could have been another two. A change was needed”.

“Five in midfield has worked before. But not today, we found it hard to get into the game, were not good with the ball. But in the end, when things are not working, you must change it, I am here for that too”.

“We began the second half in a different way, opening up the pitch, pressuring up high. We were better at everything, we deserved to win and take the three points. We cannot always play really well from the first minute”.

The Los Blancos won a tough match, but still, a lot of tough matches are waiting in the coming days. Zidane and his men must maintain this momentum to achieve the desired results.

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