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5 greatest matches for Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane

Robin Bairner
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
4.80K   //    24 May 2018, 19:35 IST

FBL-EUR-C1-REAL MADRID-PRESSER
FBL-EUR-C1-REAL MADRID-PRESSER

When Zinedine Zidane leads his Real Madrid side into Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev, it will be his 149th match in charge of Los Blancos’ top team.

When he took over from Rafael Benitez on January 4, 2016, there was some scepticism over his suitability for the job. He had enjoyed a great career as a player but his experience as a coach was limited, and having seen peers such as Diego Maradona flounder in the dugout, there were silent concerns that one of Madrid’s all-time great players may do likewise.

Concerns were rapidly brushed aside as his side scored five or more goals in three of his first four matches in charge.

While it would be wrong to say it has been all rosy since he took command – there was the suggestion he might be sacked earlier this season – he has already created history in his short tenure, becoming the first coach ever to win back-to-back Champions Leagues while boasting a formidable record of 104 wins against just 16 defeats.

His time in the dugout has, therefore, been a successful one to date, and here are the five matches that have come to define his legacy in a relatively short period.

#5 Real Madrid 3-0 Wolfsburg (12/4/2016)

Real Madrid CF v VfL Wolfsburg - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg
Real Madrid CF v VfL Wolfsburg - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg

The Spanish side went into the game trailing 2-0 from the first leg, in which they had produced an out-of-sorts performance that did little to suggest they would be able to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.In years to come, Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Wolfsburg may be looked back on as a pivotal moment in the club’s modern history, and certainly that in the career of young coach Zidane.

If Madrid had been poor defensively in that first leg, they gave a far more complete account of themselves at the Bernabeu, with Cristiano Ronaldo typically the man to lead the comeback.

Before 20 minutes were up in the Spanish capital, the Portuguese talisman had drawn them back on terms, first poaching from close range and then glancing home a header. With 13 minutes remaining, the club’s record scorer then blasted a free kick through a fragmented defensive wall to complete the turnaround.

Zidane praised the “special” attacker in his ranks but was eager to point out that it had been a team effort to stage the remarkable comeback – one inspired by the Frenchman in the dugout.

Had Madrid not succeeded in overcoming the Germans, who knows where the club might have found themselves. Instead, their victory gave them greater resolve and belief in the weeks ahead.

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Robin Bairner
SENIOR ANALYST
UK-based freelance football journalist for the last decade, I've appeared in publications such as the Guardian, the Blizzard, When Saturday Comes, but can most frequently be found on Goal.com. I write about European football, and have worked at both World Cup 2014 and Euro 2016.
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