Real Madrid announced on Monday that they were bringing Zinedine Zidane back as manager. The three-time Champions League winning manager only just left ten months ago because he thought the squad needed change. Now after seeing how poorly the change has gone, Florentino Perez returns to the man with the magic touch, hoping it continues to last.
La Liga Weekend: What Bringing Zidane Back Means
Why He Came Back
When he left Real Madrid in May it was reported that Zidane wanted more power over transfers at the club. He wanted to sell Gareth Bale and keep Cristiano Ronaldo, and Florentino Perez did the opposite. Now that Ronaldo is gone, it’s likely that Zidane’s return will be the end of Gareth Bale’s time in Madrid.
There have been multiple attempts to bring Britain’s best player back to the Premier League. Now with Real Madrid bringing Zidane back, it’s likely that their bids will no longer be denied. But before they try and buy him, Madrid wants to try and use Bale in a potential swap deal for new talent.
Players like Eden Hazard, whose public flirting with Madrid never stops, or someone like Christian Eriksen; Madrid have long liked the Danish midfielder. The real targets are Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Harry Kane, but it’s hard to see Madrid being able to get them. Erikson and Hazard though, they are much more available.
Who Else Goes?
Obviously, Gareth Bale is not the only name likely going out the door. Marcelo Viera has been rumoured to be leaving plenty of times, and that isn’t likely to change. Nor is the idea that Perez wants to sell Sergio Ramos. It will be interesting whether someone will bid for the 32-year-old centre-back, but if he wants to go someone will take him.
Bringing Zidane back does through two situations into flux; the expected departures of Isco and Keylor Navas. Both have been rumoured to be leaving this summer, however, both are two of Zidane’s favourite players. It’s likely that both of them will be given every chance to prove their worth by Zidane over these last eleven games.
Style of Play
One of the most interesting things about Zidane’s tenure as Real Madrid manager was the lack of a defining style of play. His teams are aggressive and quick in possession but seemed to rely more on Cristiano Ronaldo scoring than anything Zidane implemented. It will be interesting to see how Madrid play when Zidane doesn’t have Ronaldo to call upon.
His success in this second stint at the club will likely hinge on his ability to define that style. Surviving exclusively on raw talent can work, but it is inherently flawed. Without talent at the level of Ronaldo or Zidane, its almost impossible to succeed on talent. How they choose to play under Zidane going forward will not be decided during this season. If Zidane is still in charge by this time next year then it might be more clear.
Elsewhere in La Liga
Both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona got three points ahead of their Champions League fixtures in midweek. Atleti beat Leganes with one of their trademarked awful 1-0 home wins; the less said about it the better. Meanwhile, at the Camp Nou Barcelona dispatched Rayo Vallecano 3-1, which certainly had more talking points than Atletico’s.
It starts with Philippe Coutinho, the Brazilian was whistled coming off the pitch against Rayo after another bad performance. The team is still behind him and Ernesto Valverde still trusts him, but he has to pick it up soon. It’s only been just over a year, but the interest in moving on from Coutinho is very real, for the right offer of course.
Fourth place was firmly grasped by Getafe after their 2-1 victory over Huesca in Madrid on Saturday night. It was Getafe’s third La Liga win in a row and coupled with an Alaves draw, meant Getafe now hold a four-point lead in the race for fourth. The absolutely ludicrous dream of Getafe being in the Champions League is becoming a reality.
The enormity of their task notwithstanding, they still have a few hurdles to clear. One of them comes next weekend when they travel to the legendary Mestalla to take on Valencia. Valencia is probably the closest challengers to Getafe and would fancy themselves in this game. But as we have all learned, underestimate Getafe at your own peril.
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