Zidane's UEFA Champions League final headache
The UEFA Champions League final is almost upon us. Real Madrid who’ve made it to their fourth final in five years will be up against five-time winners, Liverpool. This will be Real’s third final in a row under Zinedine Zidane in only his second full season at the helm.
A third title in a row would be a massive achievement for Los Blancos and the French manager will have his task cut-out in order to achieve it.
Not only is he up against his opposite number Jurgen Klopp and his free-scoring team, Zidane will have the huge task of sorting his own starting eleven in the biggest game of the season.
Zidane, for the first time in a long time, will have his entire squad at his disposal for a game. Something that for a good portion of his managerial career hasn’t been a luxury to Zidane.
Player absences have been a regular feature in Zidane’s term as Real Madrid manager. Absences that have in one way or the other helped him rotate and give chances to various players.
Picking a starting eleven from a fully fit squad is quite a task for any manager. The level and quality showcased in each and every corner of the side are immense. With plenty of options available, pleasing the stars of this star-studded squad is not easy.
The absences have helped Zidane in this aspect. Injuries and suspensions have happened, giving Zidane the chance to rotate his squad and perhaps avoiding scrutiny over player decisions.
Bale’s injury made way for an Isco last season on Madrid’s way to a historic double. Injuries and suspensions like most seasons have been a regular occurrence this season too.
Injuries and suspensions which have seen the likes of Asensio, Vasquez, Kovacic, and Hakimi earn some important minutes. Making rotation decisions a bit easier for Zidane without really thinking a lot about their repercussions.
Gareth Bale and Isco's recent performances have meant that Zidane has a real headache when it comes to picking from the two. Something that might not have been the case a month back, when Bale was struggling to find a place in the starting line-up.
Much of it was owing to Zidane’s insistence on a four-man midfield. Something that clearly didn’t suit Bale a lot.
However, Bale’s recent emergence and Isco’s space finding ability has meant that Zidane is in a position that he hasn’t quite found himself in a lot as the manager of Real Madrid.
Adding the likes of Asensio and Vasquez to the mix. Who have by virtue of their performances this season put themselves well in the reckoning for Saturday.
There’s a feeling that for Zidane, things have found a way of sorting themselves out, making it less complicated for the French legend. However this time it does look a bit complicated for the Real Madrid manager.
While the defense looks familiar and ready, the midfield's look would depend on Zidane’s formation. Which could see either of Bale, Isco, Lucas or Asensio feature along with the trio of Kroos, Casemiro and Modric.
Ronaldo remains a surety, and although Benzema’s form has been questionable all through the season, he has a good chance to start.
Zidane’s’ teams lately have been anyone’s guess and on the eve of the final, this is most likely to be continued. Will it be Bale to run at Liverpool’s defense like he did against Barcelona or will it be the technical ability of Isco against Liverpool?
Tough choices for Zidane ahead of perhaps the most difficult and the most important game of his managerial career yet.