LaLiga 2018-19: Real Madrid’s guardian returns to redeem his club’s glory
Around nine and a half months back, Zinedine Zidane decided to leave Real Madrid with perhaps the perfect final act: a third consecutive Champions League title.
It had almost seemed that everything he touched turned to gold. He had won an unprecedented 9 trophies in his two and half years as the manager. Real Madrid, spearheaded by the superhuman Cristiano Ronaldo, were the team to beat in Europe.
Fast forward 2 managers and around nine trophy-less months, Real Madrid were in a mess. Ronaldo left soon after Zidane and left a Ronaldo-sized vacuum in the squad. The club obviously brought in a replacement (so they thought!) named Mariano Diaz. Nothing surprising followed.
Real Madrid crashed out of almost all tournaments without any kind of silver lining. In Champions League, having won the previous three titles, they suffered humiliation at the hands of Ajax. They were dumped out of Copa Del Rey by their fierce rivals, Barcelona. Barcelona also continued to dominate LaLiga.
Eulogies were written signifying the end of a prosperous Real Madrid era. Some players also did not disagree.
When there was absolutely no hope left, the club turned back to its champion. Zidane returned to Real Madrid after 284 days with a Herculean task at his hand.
The Frenchman expectedly passed his first task today with flying colours, beating Celta Vigo 2-0. But what is extremely important to emphasize in this game is the manner in which Real Madrid won the game.
The two villains of the season, Isco and Bale, stepped up to score a goal each to kick-start the revitalization of the club. The front three along with Isco, played with composure and fluidity that were missing for most of the season.
What was striking was the fact that the starting line-up looked almost like the old Real, with the only notable exception of the injured Dani Carvajal (and of course Cristiano Ronaldo). Keylor Navas, the Champions League hero, was restored his place in goal, and Marcelo was also given his left-back slot back.
Notwithstanding the win, Zidane has to bring back the cohesion in the squad along with the winning belief which have been shaken due to a horrendous season. But the task becomes a lot harder because this time he won’t have Ronaldo to turn to.