Zinedine Zidane has been ‘counter cultural’ at Real Madrid | ESPN FC

published on July 20, 2020

How did this happen because I remember was almost a year ago this week them losing here in the United States seven to three against Atletico Madrid in the preseason not just how did it happen but how did it happen without really any significant contribution from Eden

Hazard who was the one guy they brought in in the summer to be the big hit goes back to what we did start the show with which is Barcelona of course by definition any league title race is relative it's about who you're up

Against about how they perform you look at Barcelona's points total it's the worst that it's been in over a decade you look at the number of points with which Rome did ago to win the league it wouldn't have been enough to have on the

League in the last two seasons in which barceló have done so you look at the return from lockdown and Barcelona with two points clear surround you'd have had an absolutely fabulous running during lockdown of ten wins in a row but had

Barcelona been able to continue winning of course it would still have not been enough so you have to put it in the context of Barcelona's collapse in crisis I think in truth you also have to put it in context of that lockdown and

Sedan Sofia Ramos Ferrentino penneth the president have all said this they've all said that there was something about barometer that was slightly different post lockdown that said of course which would have had a better season in

Previous years because they came back from lockdown still with in touch of us and in previous years by March which of course is when we stopped playing they'd already been way way way out of the title race so it changed in that sense

Let me take it to New York for you as you say that was the day that they they were beaten they conceded seven goals against Atletico Madrid it was an absolute crisis I remember one of the headlines that day said there was one

Team on the pitch and one ruin one was teaming in in rubble a team completely destroyed there was nothing there there was no plan there was no football there was no identity Sudan came out after the game and said I am convinced we will

Have a good season I think one of the things we all did and I blame myself as well by the way was get very excited about that and think that it was more than a pre-season friendly which fundamentally is what it was I I think

It's a dan has settled things since then I think he's seen the weaknesses and so worked to build a solid side to build a defensively strong side aside that occasionally yes has been fortunate and as you rightly say by the way a side

That has really not relied on big-money signings your bitch hazard bail this four most expensive players in the relative squad four of the six most extensive players in the club's history and their contribution between them on

Average is nine and a half games and one and a half goals of those place now in hazards case it's different because he was injured the others have just been frozen out the others have really not had a role to play you look at the

Players who have had the most minutes in the team the top nine are all new players the 10th is Mende that's right a top title old place that temp is a new player Mindi a left back now he's been important but not massively important he

Shared them in it's more or less with Marcelo I think what we've seen was that is a return to the old guard a return to his trust in the players up on three champions leagues and maybe there's a lesson here for Barcelona you asked me a

Minute ago what's the reason for optimism a person of the optimism is they've got very good squad realm would you'd look to be at a mess 12 months ago but the optimism was that was still good players in that squad even if it was an

Ageing squad even if it was problematic even if they weren't scoring as many goals needs to be even if they didn't have Christiano Ronaldo anymore there were still things there and what had ended of course was was connect to the

Squad as he always had done emotionally tactically look at the what he could do plausibly in terms of building a structure that would work that would protect them and then of course in the context of a season in which Nyberg

Let's go Madrid nor Bastogne and will ultimately feel like the restart are kind of figures in points that they they would have hoped for you mentioned the long list of big needs that haven't produced for al Madrid but

Surely there are players this season who have when you look at a championship team usually though the most valuable player is pretty obvious who's the most irreplaceable player on this real Madrid team because for me is not so obvious

Now I think it's very interesting to look at the rounded team and talk about who have been the big performance and as I say I do think it's very difficult to do this analysis properly precisely because of the fact that we've had kind

Of two halves of the season welded together kind of awkwardly you know that the two the two bits of the season don't really fit together that well and so if you look at Real Madrid as a whole over the entire season I think you would say

The most consistent performers are probably casimiro and Karim Benzema if you look post lock down circle around most suddenly stood up and became the leader became the key player and actually we saw a return to form a

Return to really brilliant form of Luca Maju hadn't been cutely important earlier earlier in the season the player that gave them the most freshness the most drive the most sense of their being something knew about them was valve

Early but the ultimate feeling once the season's been ovaries that perhaps it wasn't is important as we first saw in that middle part of the season and then of course has been called twat who had a difficult time in the autumn but I think

It's been absolutely brilliant from about November onwards so and I think in a way maybe that's the key to this success we've had really big contributions at very important times with a very steady team you look at the

Numbers and I think it's basically a spine of seven or eight players who played almost every game who played over 30 but 30 starts in the in the 37 games they played so far this season and I think that's been the basis of it the

Players have stepped up when it's really mattered here's a stat for you which I think underlines that really really quite clearly of the rounded squad this season 21 players have scored goals only two outfield players in the entire squad

Have not scored this season in La Liga one of them is Brian D Arthur when you play 59 minutes and the other is minutes out who's the backup central defender let's focus in on Zidane for a second the work he's done as the manager

Interesting comments yesterday saying that the La Liga title makes him happier than Champions League I mean that sounds kind of counterintuitive for everything we know about Real Madrid are you buying what he's saying and how do you explain

It I am 100% buying what Stan says and I think this is the key part of this as well you've just described it as counterintuitive I think on the face of it is I think what sedan has done it's countercultural at Real Madrid a club

Whose entire identity is being built through the European Cup he pushed the league title there's a curious little that kind of quirk of all of this which is that over the last two years until this season in which in Barcelona it was

Seen as not enough to have just won the league title one man kept on reasserting kept on insisting on the significance of what Barcelona are done in winning the league and that was sedan Zenit won three champions leagues in a row it felt

That that wasn't enough he felt like there was always doubts about the Champions League winning teams that La Liga was the proof of how good a team you really were is the most objective measurement of how good a team really

Was and he was trying really really hard to change the culture at round to say to them look it's not enough to go and win a title like the Champions League where it's 12 13 games you get for it and bang on weave on it I want

The competition that proves that you'd be the best leather course season this every single week for 38 weeks over the course of season that's what we'll show we're the best not the Champions League there's even a quote from him back in

March he says listen 1213 games we need to break away from that mindset we need to be 38 games bam-bam-bam-bam every single week that's what we need to do and that's a big ask because by the way a boardroom level a fan level player

Level that doesn't necessarily fit with how they think and what was due dan has done I'm a big part of success is to try and change that mindset now this is where I'm gonna slightly contradicts myself if I'm gonna contradict myself a

Lot I've just talked about today I'm changing the culture about Sedan changing the mindset about talking about elite I'll that's 38 games I also think in truth as I said right at the very start that we have to lock the context

Of lockdown here and then what happened of course was that round you came back after lockdown and were confronted by a tournament that now looks a lot like the Champions League here's 11 games the title is just there it's tangible it's

Just in front of you just get through these games and they did so there was a time when Zidane reputation as a manager was basically just that a man manager you look at the work this year though it's getting harder and harder to argue

Not just that he's among the best managers in the world but that he's not the best manager in the world when do you think he'll shed that man manager image well I mean the amazing thing is that he still hasn't even with this

Title race I think there are a number of reasons for it now first and foremost let's start with something very basic zinedine zidane has won three champions leagues he has never not won the Champions League so far now obviously

That could happen this season he has been at rounded up five seasons but it's actually three complete seasons and two parts of seasons in only two in only than those two parts of seasons where he came in late once in January and once in

March he couldn't win the league in other words in the free season which he could have won the league he's won it twice he's won a trophy every 19 I mean his record is extrordinary and you're right and there is still this

Slight resistance and still this idea that he's only a man and manager now let's start with the basics shall we first things first only a man manager as if that was easy a club like Real Madrid as if that is all

It takes we've just seen at Barcelona how difficult that is this is one of the accusations people made about Valverde to only a man man he wants two league titles the people who followed him didn't see damn on three European Cups

The people who followed him didn't sedan has won two league titles that's two of only three that rounded at one in 12 years so first things first let's have a bit more respect maybe for man management skills which is a huge part

Of modern football but the other part of this is if you watch or a matured this season tactically they don't look like there's an teams that won free champions you can Road they look different obviously they're likely to without Kris

Entering out of it but they score far fewer goals and concede our Fuhrer they've solidified they've looked at their limitations and been aware of that and worked around that you look at the tactical variations this year we've seen

A team play four three three we've seen them play four five one we played seen that played four four two we've seen a 4-2-3-1 we've seen him shift through those formations yes we've seen a civility of players that play and it is

The old guard but I think we've seen tactical nuances that we didn't see there before we see a team that goes and wins the ball much higher at the pitch we seen a team that's much more prepared to bring the ball out from the back that

Doesn't go long from the goalkeeper as often and and at Granada for example we saw that very very clearly so I think we are seeing these things but we still do get and I think you're right that idea that well it's about the

Players and you know who is most guilty of not making this about sedan who is most guilty of always talking about the players as if it's easy to manage this squad who is most guilty of basically undermining sedan's role in all of this

Zinedine Zidane is and that is part of the reason well thank you very much for watching ESPN on YouTube for more sports highlights and analysis be sure to download the ESPN app and for live streaming premium content and let's not

Forget as well ESPN FC seven days a week subscribe to ESPN Plus

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