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Why Zinedine Zidane’s second stint will be his toughest challenge yet?

Zinedine Zidane returns to Real Madrid,nine months after resigning from his post.But his second stint seems to be his toughest challenge yet

Last updated: 12.03.2019
Zinedine Zidane returns for his second stint as Real Madrid manager

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Going by the looks of it, Real Madrid are far from winning a piece of silverware this season. The lackadaisical 2018/19 campaign has ensured Los Blancos will end up trophyless in May.

However, amidst a bunch of negatives, Florentino Perez has gifted the Madrid faithful a big positive by reinstating Zinedine Zidane as the head coach at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Nearly ten months after he stepped down following a two-and-a-half year trophy-laden spell at the club, the Frenchman has proven to be irreplaceable. Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari's failure at maintaining the standards has seen the prodigal son of Real Madrid return to the hot-seat and no wonder every supporter has already started dreaming about him ushering yet another epoch of glory. But, will he manage to be on par with the expectations of his old club?


Zinedine Zidane masterminded the most glorious era in the history of Real Madrid, steering them to three consecutive UEFA Champions League titles. Also, he guided them to a LaLiga title, a Spanish Super Cup, 2 UEFA Super Cups and 2 FIFA Club World Cups, making sure he became immortal in the club's history books. However, it would be foolish to get carried away by thinking that the Frenchman could repeat the same story, simply because the conditions at the start of both of his two stints are vastly different.

When Zidane took over from Rafa Benitez as the interim boss in January 2016, he had a group of world-class players at his disposal. While he has pretty much the same roster to start with for the remainder of this season, he is short of the crowned jewel that shined brightly as the kingpin of the setup. Now when Zidane shouts orders from the dugout during games, he will not have a certain Cristiano Ronaldo adhering to them on the pitch. The Portuguese legend, who joined Juventus at the start of this season, was a man capable of guaranteeing 50 goals a season and moreover, a master at scoring match-winners. The setup around him is pretty much the same, but without its menacing spearhead, Los Merengues have rightly looked toothless this season. The absence of Ronaldo brings Zidane to the task of replacing him, which in itself is a Herculean task to be completed. The 46-year-old could take a leaf out of Manchester United's book knowing how the Red Devils have struggled to find an apt number 7 to replace him for the past decade. Ronaldo's absence means Zidane will be forced to devise a new tactical system that gels right in and delivers on all the fronts – something that will test the very tactical nous he was criticized for last season.

A hallmark of Zidane's successful tenure at the club was the fact that he managed to achieve all the glory by shying away from Real Madrid's habit of spending huge chunks of cash in the transfer market. However, the summer of 2019 will by far be the most crucial period of his second stint at the Bernabeu. Perez managed to bring in Vinicius Junior to fill the boots of Ronaldo, but that is quite insufficient as a player of CR7's mould cannot be replaced by a single person. Add to that the imminent departure of Gareth Bale which might finally come to pass this summer. The Welshman, though injured for most of the times, still had the knack of dictating games in his presence(The UCL final against Liverpool should serve an appropriate example).

While Real Madrid's old guard continues to age day by day, Zidane will be required to build a team not only for a season but one that can last and usher a new era of success at the Spanish capital. And that's precisely why he will need to make sure Los Blancos target the right kind of players and land them in the summer. While the first stint tested the Frenchman's praiseworthy aman-management skills on unifying a dressing room full of egos, the second one will put him on trial for his aptitude of building a team for the long term.

Zinedine Zidane will also be judged on how he manages to break the stranglehold of their fierce rivals FC Barcelona in the LaLiga. The Catalans have mightily dominated domestically, showcasing the archetypal consistency Los Merengues have lacked at. To put it in a nutshell, it is nigh impossible for Real Madrid to beat Barcelona with the superhuman Lionel Messi roaming the attacking lines for the latter. Domestic success will hold paramount importance than European glory, and so will Zidane's plans on how he plots to stifle Barcelona's threat in the years to come.

Last but not the least, Zidane also faces the danger of falling prey as a victim of his own greatness. He has given memories to the Madridistas that won't be forgotten even for centuries from now onwards. No matter what he does or wherever he goes, Zidane will always find himself competing against the benchmarks he has set for himself by winning all that glory in his first tenure as a Real Madrid manager. The expectations are ten-fold now, and a failure to be on par with them might as well lead to yet another ruthless managerial sacking, irrespective of how much Zinedine Zidane is loved and adored in every nook and corner of the Bernabeu.

If things do not pan out as expected, the Frenchman's history might as well set the base for his downfall.

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