Zinedine Zidane has earned himself widespread praise after Real Madrid’s 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund, which came thanks to a goal from Gareth Bale and a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Following on from the disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to Betis last week, Real went to Alaves and won 2-1, but the match against Dortmund was always going to be a difficult tie for the 12-time European champions.
“It’s a challenge,” said Zidane in the build-up to the game, conveniently speaking in French as Real looked to end their hoodoo after not being victorious in their previous six visits to the Westfalenstadion.
Zidane’s side won and looked very impressive, with the former player reaching a new level in his role as Real head coach: becoming a coach who does not resist big challenges, even as daunting as taking three points from Dortmund has been for Los Blancos.
There has been some pressure on Real in recent weeks after disappointing results against Valencia, Levante and Betis, and Zidane has been at the forefront of that criticism with his decision to rotate the squad, something that conveniently aided the club in winning both LaLiga and the Champions League last season.
Nevertheless, his position has remained unaltered and he will continue to coach in the same manner, with a blossoming resume that has seen the 45-year-old win seven trophies in less than two years in charge.
After making history last season by becoming the first team to retain the Champions League in the modern era, both of which came under the leadership of Zidane, the goal will be, once again, to win the cup that is so closely associated with Real for a 13th time.
In addition, Real also became European and Spanish champions at the same time for the first time in 59 years. Many had thought that it would be impossible to win both trophies in the same year; that is until the Marseille-born coach’s side launched a final sprint at the end of last season.
As such, Zidane helped Real to win four trophies in one season for the first time in the club’s history, with only Celta de Vigo being able to knock out the Madrid giants from a competition under Zidane in the Copa del Rey last season.
His career, up to this point, has been outstanding and it is difficult to put a limit on just what he can achieve. It is two Seville-based teams who have caused Zidane some recent trouble, with Real Betis ending Los Blancos’ 73-game record of scoring in every game, and Sevilla ending the run of 40 consecutive games unbeaten – from April 2016 to January 2017 (with 30 victories and 10 draws, and 115 goals scored and 39 conceded).
Zidane has called being Real coach “the most difficult thing,” and he knows that he is expected to win every game and every trophy. Valencia, Levante and Betis have all come to the Santiago Bernabeu and taken points, however, so there is still work to be done, but that is something that provides Zidane with motivation.