Resilience & Dominance: Zidane and Madrid have found the perfect balance.
Real Madrid now own the Spanish record for the most games unbeaten, 40 games in all competitions, after drawing 3–3 to Sevilla in the second leg of the Copa Del Rey round of 16. They surpassed Barcelona’s very impressive 39-game run from last season.
The road to 40 games unbeaten has been a thrilling rollercoaster. In their game against Sevilla, Los Blancos were trailing 3–1 with 13 minutes remaining in regular time with the streak all but certain to end.
Real Madrid and manager Zinedine Zidane, like they’ve done many times before, managed to put a string of goals together and comeback in dramatic fashion to secure the draw and the Spanish record.
These types of comebacks aren’t anything new to Madridistas. Let’s go back to October 12, 2016 where Real Madrid were down 2–1 with 25 minutes left in regular time at the Bernabéu. Los Blancos had been playing poorly the entire match and Zidane needed to get a result against bottom of the table Deportivo de La Coruña. The manager used all three of his substitutions, Lucas (66'), Mariano (72'), and Marcelo (81') in an attempt to at least secure a draw.
In the 84' minute Mariano, a third choice attacker, scored a header from a Lucas Vázquez cross to tie the match at 2–2. The game remained tied going into 5 minutes of extra time and Real Madrid had won a corner in the 91' minute. All eyes and cameras were focused on Sergio Ramos, who has saved Real Madrid many times in last minute thrillers in Champions League and La Liga matches. Toni Kroos delivers the cross and Ramos bangs a perfect header towards the back post looping over the Deportivo keeper. The Santiago Bernabéu erupts with applause and the Blancos race over to Ramos to celebrate the incredible comeback.
These kinds of moments have happened a lot since Zidane has arrived and some call him extremely lucky as a first time manager. Yes, luck could be at play but going 40, let alone 30 games, unbeaten should dismiss the “well he’s the manager of Real Madrid.” or “He has Ronaldo and Bale!”. Both of those things are true, he is the manager of Real Madrid and he does have Ronaldo and Bale, but he’s managed to do this with both Ronaldo and Bale missing games for injury or rest. How come when Luis Enrique completed 39 matches people weren’t calling him lucky? At the end of the day, managers need to make decisions on and off the pitch that all factor to them getting a positive result.
Zidane brings his legendary status to the locker room. All of the Real Madrid players respect and believe in him and this makes his job easier. This was the case when Carlo Ancelotti was at the helm for Real Madrid. Zidane was Ancelotti’s assistant and learned how to control the locker room and how to make the players feel comfortable and believe in the game plan. Ancelotti had a streak of 31 games unbeaten during his time at the club.
In Zidane’s 56 games as coach, he has won more titles than he has lost, only suffering two defeats. He’s won trophies in the Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup. During Real Madrid’s run of games, they have accomplished this record against teams including; Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Villarreal, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City.
The pressure of the record is now off Los Blancos and they can just focus on each team in front of them. They are now in a position to extend the record without the weight of the world wondering if they could pass Barca’s record.
As for Zidane, he has proven to Florentino Pérez, the Real Madrid players, Madridistas, Europe and football experts that he is the right man to lead Real Madrid. Is he the best manager in the world? No. Does he have the best tactics? No. Does he get results on the pitch? Yes. Which out of those qualities would you want for your club’s manager?
Follow me on Twitter @ElasticoChopp