2019/20 Countdown: Real Madrid
La Liga – 3rd; Copa del Rey – Semi-finals; UEFA Champions League – Last 16; Top Scorer (All competitions) – Karim Benzema (30)
The Question: Is Zidane under pressure for the first time at Real?
Zinedine Zidane saw the signs when he jumped the Real Madrid ship in May 2018. Despite just sealing a third successive Champions League crown, Zizou resigned as Los Blancos manager shortly after, not least because he saw marks of decay in the Real Madrid side. And the Frenchman was proved right, a rather stale squad had a disappointing 2018/19 season, failing to muster a title challenge in Spain and leaving the Champions League in March. Real Madrid burned through two different managers – Julen Lopetegui and then Santiago Solari – before finding their way back to Zizou again in the spring.
Zidane needed the squad to undergo a rebuild, and that’s been the case in the summer, Real currently have a summer net spend of £162.9 million, despite selling players for a collective worth of over £100 million. Zidane has got the instillment of freshness he ordered (the spending may not even be over), and that is likely to lead to pressure in the Real dugout.
You could point out that the Real job always come with pressure, and quite rightly so, but Zidane’s previously didn’t quite have that. His first season – in which he took charge midway – was something of a free hit, while his second – first full season – came with its mix of scepticism and the benefit of the doubt. This is perhaps the first time the former Real midfielder is really under pressure to deliver.
It’s been a while since Los Blancos went on a spending spree, and that has never left the man in the hot-seat with extra comfort. The Bernabeu hot-seat comes with pressure, even more so when the chequebook is open. Pre-season games may not mean zilch, but the poor results haven’t really bode well. Zizou has his tools, it’s time to build.
Eden Hazard is the biggest-name signing, the Belgian, a long target of Zidane’s, joining from Chelsea. Luka Jovic signs from Frankfurt, while left-back Ferland Mendy arrives from Lyon. Eder Militao has joined from Porto, and youngsters Rodrygo and Takefusa Kubo have arrived from Santos and Tokyo FC respectively.
On the departure front (Gareth Bale! Gareth Bale!! Gareth Bale!!!), Marcos Llorente has moved across the city to Atletico Madrid, while Mateo Kovacic has made his loan at Chelsea permanent. Theo Hernandez joins Milan, Raul de Tomas, after his great spell with Rayo Vallecano, has moved to Benfica, while Sergio Reguilon has joined Sevilla on loan.
Real Madrid are a side that need no introduction, who will be looking to make up for last season’s mishaps, and have injected freshness into the squad.
Real are a side who have spent a fair bit in renovation, and there’s likely to be an even bigger sense of expectation.
The Gaffer (Zinedine Zidane)
Came back as manager in spring after walking away some 10 months before. Demanded a rebuild, and has got that, and perhaps it’s time for success without scepticism.
How will they do
A sustained title challenge looks like a given, even though Real have a habit of not quite going the distance on the domestic front. Winning the league is an aim, actually winning the lot is always the aim at Real.
Kunle Ajao126 Posts
Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not