Zidane out – yes, that is what a group of people in and outside the social media was demanding after some terrible displays a few weeks ago.

Zinedine Zidane remained calm and composed as ever and stated that he is not someone who is new to such kind of situations and knows very well how to handle the pressure and travel through the choppy waters. He treats each and every match as the final and for many, this approach might be a matter of fun, but when the situation is critical, this approach pays rich dividends.

In La Liga and in the UEFA Champions League, the situation was such that the Los Blancos were walking on a thin rope and a defeat would simply make things worse, especially in the Champions League, where they were at risk of slipping to the Europa League. The coming week became the most important one in the history of the club and it was a test of character for Zidane and Real Madrid.

Last Saturday Madrid visited Sevilla and bagged a 1-0 win to set the tone. That was followed on Wednesday with a comfortable 2-0 win over Gladbach in the Champions League which swerved Madrid out of the path of potential group-stage humiliation and into the top spot.

After a third victory, over Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Zidane have successfully weathered the storm and can be ready for another glory in this unpredictable season.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going – Zidane changed the mood around the dressing room and advised his men to play like a Cornered Tiger – every player Zidane has used in the past eight days has given their all, pressing until the very end, never wavering in their concentration.

Atletico arrived at the Alfredo Di Stefano as league leaders with six points and a game in hand on their more illustrious neighbours. Simeone’s side had gone 26 league games without losing and scored seven wins in a row, to illustrate the size of the task for Real.

They had never been behind this season in the top flight and conceded just two goals, but in the Madrid Derby, Zidane is the ultimate boss.

Casemiro broke the deadlock with a well-placed header into the bottom corner, with Karim Benzema previously striking the post.

The Brazilian, remarkably, has more goals (26) than team-mates Toni Kroos (19) and Luka Modric (24), in fewer appearances for the club than either of his midfield partners.

Surprisingly, Diego Simeone decided to play more cautiously despite enjoying the season because of his attacking intent.

Luis Suarez looked lost with his team playing too deep behind him, while Joao Felix was reduced to hacking Casemiro in a frustrating first half. Atleti did not manage a single first-half shot, only the second time they have failed to do so in the last five seasons.

Zidane pressed more and more, Atleti sunk further.

Dani Carvajal scored Real’s second with a brilliant volley from distance, although the record books will note it as an Oblak’s own goal, as the ball struck the post and then the Slovenian stopper’s back before crossing the line.

Simeone changed things up at half-time and threw on Angel Correa and Thomas Lemar, whereas they should have started at first hand – they brought some fighting intent, but it was a Los Blancos unit, which was tough to break down.

It was the same old story.

Atletico Madrid are now unable to defeat Real Madrid in 9 straight league games – and their last loss before this came at the Santiago Bernabeu in February.

The match was won from the center of the park, where Real Madrid had the final say.

Toni Kroos and Luka Modric were at their very best, while Casemiro provided the sucker punch.

The first warning shot of the evening came from the Modric’s right boot as he fired low and wide past the far post from the edge of the penalty area. His movements with the ball just hinted age is just a number for the champion and in each match, he is getting better and better.

Meanwhile, there is nothing to say about Kroos – yet another brilliant display from the German. He certainly looked back to his best on Saturday and was the creator of Casemiro’s goal, landing his out-swinging corner on his teammate’s head.

Lucas Vazquez enjoyed another brilliant evening. He has been one of those players with whom Zidane experimented frequently, but the man responded to the coach’s boldness and always tried to give his best no matter which position he was tried and tested.

His spot in the team cannot be undermined right now, whether as a right-back or a right-winger. The Galician impressed once more, providing support for the returning Carvajal when needed. In the opposing penalty area, he had a late shot well saved by Oblak at his near post.

It’s normal having a drop-off [in form] and then a pick-up,” Casemiro said after Saturday’s derby win.

There are lots of games. We’re not machines. We’ve been very solid as a team in three very important games for us. Everyone’s work has been phenomenal.”

“We had control, we were playing good football.”

“Passes between the lines, playing high, pressing high. It wasn’t just intensity in the first half – our football was fantastic.”

“We broke them down to find an opening, it’s true,” Zidane said on his game plan.

“We had to do things. It was about switching the play quickly and we found spaces with diagonals.”

“[Modric and Kroos] are f***ing brilliant. They’re exceptional.”

“Karim [Benzema] too… And Lucas [Vazquez] is phenomenal, and [Dani] Carvajal, and our captain [Sergio Ramos], [Raphael] Varane… Everyone is very good.”

“We were very good in our press across the pitch and we didn’t let Atletico into the game. They only had one chance with Saul and we controlled the game really well.”

Real Madrid are back to the place where they belong – winning matches consistently.

The lean-patch has been overcome and it is time to dream big.

Zidane has proved his worth yet again and he is irreplaceable as the coach of Real Madrid.

 

Facebook Comments