Why Zinedine Zidane left Real Madrid in 2018 after winning 3 Champions Leagues in a row

Why Zinedine Zidane left Real Madrid in 2018 after winning 3 Champions Leagues in a row

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25 Jan 2022
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Zinedine Zidane

Have you ever seen Florentino Perez as lost as during the press conference of Zidane’s departure? Not once in his 17 years as president of Real Madrid has he seen a coach leave of his own accord.


Proving everyone wrong

Three Champions Leagues in a row is an anomaly with strange consequences. Previously, Madrid left because they did not win the Champions League. Now they leave because they won too much. Zidane at the farewell press conference often repeated the word desgaste – in relation to football, it is fatigue from work, professional burnout. It was repeatedly said by Josep Guardiola when he said goodbye to Barcelona.

Another focus is on time. “Now is the right time to make a change. After three years of work, this is the right decision not only for me, but also for the players,” said Zidane. The cycle has come to an end. Guardiola learned this from Cruyff, Zidane from Del Bosque: the resources of the team are developed in a few years, after which it is necessary to change either the coach or the players. Specialists who have been working in clubs for decades have remained rare exceptions, gradually leaving the scene.

Interestingly, the happiest moment in his coaching career, despite winning the Champions League, Zidane called the championship in Spain. And let slip about what scares him in the future: “I don’t want to start the new season and find myself in a bad situation, I want to end my journey in Real Madrid on a positive note.” 76 points in the last championship is the club’s anti-record since the 2006/07 season. The main trump card of Zidane as a coach has always been the ability to motivate. This continued to work to the accompaniment of the Champions League anthem (albeit intermittently), and at away games in the Spanish province of Real Madrid appeared as an amorphous team.


Zinedine is a perfect coach of Los Blancos

Zidane has everything in perfect order with self-esteem. Before the final with Liverpool, he ironically noted: “I am not the best coach from a tactical point of view. I don’t need to talk about it, because journalists talk about it all the time.”

It is surprising and somewhat paradoxical that the football media now measure coaches not with titles, but with their own idea of ​​their competence. The tactical freak Bielsa, who did not win a single victory in Europe, is a football genius. And those who regularly win championships or European cups, but adhere to two standard formations, are physical education teachers.

Zidane is not going to dedicate his career to answering idiotic questions. Yes, he refuses the challenge of overcoming problems or even building a new team – in a strategic sense, the victorious structure of Madrid was inherited from Rafa Benitez, his complete opposite. Benitez was good at tactics, but was as far from the trained players as possible.

Coaches are not universal. Someone saves outsiders from relegation to the lower division, someone accelerates the middle peasants to the level of the Champions League, someone manages capricious stars in the giants. Some work well with young people, others use budget money in northern cities. For three years we thought that the best thing about Zidane was the ability to motivate. No, the best thing is his ability to identify his strengths and weaknesses.

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