Zidane's pending challenges

Madrid return to work to start preparing for the 2020-21 preseason, a campaign in which the French coach must work on several factors.


Three weeks after the end of the 2019-20 season, which ended with the triumphs in the Spanish Super Cup and the League, Madrid returned to training today. This morning, starting at 10:00 am, Zidane's men will start a new preseason in Valdebebas. An atypical preseason for the times: without tours of American or Asian lands and with the players joining in a staggered way (there are national team matches and the white club has 11 internationals: Jovic will finally not go with the Serbian team to protect himself from a possible contagion and, furthermore, thus avoid quarantine upon return). But the white coach faces next season with challenges ahead…

Self-disclosure, no. After winning the League and the Champions League in the 2016-17 campaign, the Whites started 2017-18 winning the European Super Cups (Manchester United, 2-1) and Spain (Barcelona, triumphs 1-3 and 2-0) , but they immediately dismounted from the league competition: he punctured three times in the first three days played at the Bernabéu, with two draws (Valencia, 2-2, and Levante 1-1) and a defeat against Betis (0-1) . Zidane does not want it to happen again. He aspires to extend the streak that began after the break by COVID-19, in which they linked 10 consecutive victories that served to secure the league title. Sergio Ramos' leadership will be fundamental.

Workforce management. One of his great virtues is knowing how to handle the wardrobe and get the best possible use of it. After the return for the break, Zizou used the 25 players of the squad in the 11 games that remained to be played. But he must take advantage of players like Vinicius (only two full games played after the break) or Odegaard, who returns after his assignment to Real Sociedad and after having made the transition to the Spanish League happily. The veteran of players like Ramos and Modric (34 years) must alternate with the youth. In the background lies the idea of a renovation in the changing room that has already begun and that should lead in the coming years ... 444 444

'Hazard factor'. In the absence of flashy signings, the big news is the presence of Hazard. The Belgian, who landed in the white team last season has not been able to perform so far except in specific moments. In the summer of 2019 he arrived overweight (he himself admitted: "I gained five kilos in the summer," he said in an interview), and in November he suffered a hard tackle from his compatriot Meunier in the Champions League match against PSG, perhaps when he began to show the player that he was at Chelsea. That affected the rest of his first campaign in white: he participated in 22 games (16 in the League and six in the Champions League), but only completed five of them (22.7%). He only contributed one goal, against Granada, but gave seven assists. This year, if injuries respect him, Zidane must squeeze more the talent of the Belgian, one of his fetish players.

Asensio, false nine. One of the tactical novelties that Zidane had in mind was to relocate Asensio as a false center forward to get more and better use of the Balearic's qualities, but the injury he suffered during the run in the US truncated any possibility. However, the time that was not competed by the pandemic was phenomenal for Marco: he recovered in a remarkable way, played for both bands and was able to score three goals in nine appearances. A new Asensio is on the way and that's great news.

The dream of another double. Since Zidane became a white coach (January 2016), Madrid have lifted 12 titles (11 with the French) to eight for Barcelona. He always won a title except in 2019, on his return to the white bench, because the team had been eliminated in the Cup and Champions League and had no chance in the League. The coach would like to complete his record with the Cup title, the only one who has not yet won: what's more, he was always eliminated after losing at the Bernabéu ... But the dream of lifting League number 35 (he would repeat the title, something that Whites have not achieved since the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons) and / or raise the Fourteenth: it would be the fifth Champions League of an unrepeatable generation and a magnificent climax for this already legendary group. On a personal level, Zidane is three titles away from being the coach with the most titles won in Spanish football: only Muñoz and Guardiola (14 each) have more than him ... 444 444

Silencing criticism. During a good part of last season there was a debate: there were complaints that Madrid were winning, but they were not convincing. For others, that system was valid to get the League. Led by Zidane, the Whites have played memorable games (the final against Juventus in 2017). Once the bases that have served to win the League have been established (the Courtois wall, Ramos' leadership, Casemiro's perseverance, Benzema's nose, 21 different scorers in the League, something never seen before ...), it is expected that the whites show a more brilliant and effective game in front of the rival goal. For that, start working today.

Photos from as.com
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