Valdebebas allowed Real Madrid President Florentino Perez and coach Zinedine Zidane to meet face to face for the first time since Kyiv and since the pressure surrounding Zidane is huge.

Perez always had faith in Zidane, but things are different now.

Real Madrid are in big trouble in the Champions League.

The prestige of the historic club is at stake.

The Group B of the Champions League is nicely poised going into Matchday 6 next week. Real Madrid would host the Group leaders Borussia Monchengladbach at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano while Inter play Shakhtar in Milan.

If Real Madrid beat Borussia, they would reach the Round of 16 as the Group leaders if Shakhtar don’t beat Inter, or as the runner-up, if the Ukrainians take the three points from Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.  If Real Madrid draw against Gladbach and Shakhtar are defeated by Inter then they would enter the Round of 16 from second in the group.

If Real Madrid lose to Gladbach and Inter do not win and if Real Madrid draw against Gladbach and Shakhtar score against Inter – the Los Blancos would feature in the Europa League.

If Real Madrid lose to Gladbach at home and Inter beat Shakhtar in Milan, well, the Los Blancos would be out of top-level of European competitions.

The most important thing is, Real Madrid have to beat Borussia and it would be an extra-advantage if they steamroll them at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium.

Given the status of the team at present, a win against the Group leaders seem quite an uphill task and the coach is facing the heat at the moment.

Back in the eventful season of 2015-16, it was Zidane who brought the lack-of-self-esteem Real Madrid unit back on track and essayed a glorious phase in the history of the Los Blancos, but those things are past and you are always judged by the results of present and right now, Zidane in under a lot of pressure and facing the backlash of fans and critics.

As soon as Cristiano Ronaldo left Santiago Bernabeu back in the summer of 2018-19, Real Madrid tried and tested with Lopetegui and Solari, but Florentino Perez convinced Zidane to return and fix the problems. He shone in the next season by lifting the La Liga title even though in the Champions League he was dismal.

The 2020-21 season has not been easier for any teams in Europe due to COVID-19.

The schedules have been hectic, which triggered injuries among the players and then there is that COVID-19 factor – teams were left to try their available options and finding the way through has been the priority at the background of a sound tactic.

Teams like Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Juventus or Manchester city have kept themselves going, but why the fate of such a heavyweight team like Real Madrid is hanging on the balance remains a moot question.

One cannot deny that Zidane made mistakes.

He continued with the underperformers, which cost Real Madrid heavily.

Marca stated, “Zidane’s faith in Marcelo is inversely proportional to his performances, with statistics suggesting he is no longer adding anything to the team when he plays.”

“Until Kyiv, the vice-captain had been a key part of all Los Blancos’ great moments with Zidane, however, he is now in decline.”

“Isco has received less minutes but is still playing poorly, whilst Lucas Vazquez has actually responded to the confidence of the coach.”

But, Vazquez has been switched to so many positions off-late, it has hampered his game badly and it was evident at Kyiv, where he operated as a right-back in absence of the injured Dani Carvajal. While against Inter, he was operating as the right-wing and gave a very good game.

Zidane still has faith in Benzema and the logic could be his brilliant 2019-20 season.

After the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, Zidane was given the option to fill the vacuum of the best player in the world with Eden Hazard, Mariano Diaz and Luka Jovic. None of them could deliver anything but proved a total waste, especially Hazard and Jovic.

Without a doubt, the above-mentioned names delivered when it mattered, but at the same time, they wasted a lot of clear-cut opportunities.

As for example in Kyiv, the Los Blancos had four clear chances and none ended in a goal in the first half. Madrid created the chances but failed with all. And so it is impossible to win.

Benzema’s six goals in the 12 games he has featured in so far this season are not enough for the main striker of a club like Real Madrid. He has slipped off the pace and it is having a negative impact on the whole side.

It’s not just in the goals department that there is a concern. He simply doesn’t look as comfortable as in last season at this time he smashed 11 goals.

Benzema, in his defence, can point to the injury problems he has faced this season which certainly have not helped his cause.

Moreover, players like Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes have not received enough minutes to flourish and deliver.

Rodrygo could be a very good centre forward if given more minutes to play in that position with Asensio on the right and Vini on the left.

Then comes the transfer requests, as Marca stated, It’s understood that Zidane repeatedly asked Florentino Perez to buy Paul Pogba, but he never did, but there are also players whom he bet on who he isn’t confident in anymore. Luka Jovic is a prime example of that, whilst Eden Hazard’s fitness troubles have rendered his arrival in Madrid as a non-event. Initially, Ferland Mendy also had to fight to win his place from Marcelo, which in hindsight is ridiculous.”

The experimentation of Zidane has not helped him at all.

Marca stated, “The constant changing of players has been surprising, especially when compared to his first spell at the helm.”

“In 2020 there hasn’t been a recognized best XI, and there are now more rotations of key players such as Toni Kroos than there has ever been before.”

“His insistence on everyone getting opportunities has surely been motivated by a constricted calendar, but it hasn’t worked.”

Tactically, Zidane has not come up with something new when under pressure. Clearly, he relies on the players to do it for him, but this cannot pull out a match every time. Not every day an individual dishes out something extraordinary to change the course of the game and for which, the tactical switch is always needed.

With the defence at sixes and sevens and the likes of Casemiro and Fede Valverde not in action, he could have placed a defender in that defensive midfield position to inject solidity and guard during the transitions, which has been a nemesis for Madrid this season.

Again, if the defence is melting under pressure then shun the idea of flying full-backs and apply four centre-backs at the back to give the midfield and frontline more freedom. Watching Toni Kroos dropping in between the defenders did not work well because he is more of a playmaker rather than shielding the defence, where Varane is having a nightmare right now.

Marca stated, “The French coach’s system has hardly changed since his arrival five years ago, he works in the same manner in which he did when he won 11 titles, but logically the players aren’t the same so the results aren’t either.”

“In the same way that football has evolved in that time, Zidane’s players and trusted lieutenants have gotten older, and thus more focused tactical work is needed to produce a new style.”

Zidane has his flaws, but at the end of the day, he is one who could drag Real Madrid out of this mess. He has done it before as a player and coach.

No one expects a drastic change in the middle of the season, but it’s better to found the way out from this mess with the man, who has the experience, temperament and ability to steer ship through the choppy waters.

The quickly Real Madrid and their fans forget the nightmare in Kyiv, the better for them. The name Real Madrid is heavy and has a lot of responsibilities towards the fans – right now, it seems, they are shrinking, but still, there is hope and the Royal Whites and their coach Zidane would not let the fans down easily.

Zidane has made tactical mistakes, but still, there is no ideal replacement of the great man.


Keep the faith in Zidane!

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