Zinedine Zidane’s position looked to be in grave danger, with Real Madrid‘s Champions League hopes in the balance and drifting further away from LaLiga Santander‘s summit, yet a spectacular week has Los Blancos back on track.
It was arguably Zidane‘s most precarious situation, alongside Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey elimination at the hands of Leganes in 2018 when he cut a deflated figure, before going on to win the Champions League in Kiev.
The difference between that crisis and the most recent one that he has managed to wriggle his way out of is that, this time, he never lost faith in his side.
The club’s official photoshoot for the 2020/21 season proved to be an unlikely turning point, with a tense situation diffused by a calm meeting with Florentino Perez and Zidane, as well as chats between the president and various first team players. It served to quash rumours over Zidane‘s future and boosted morale after the defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Yet the major step came in the ever tricky fixture at the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan, where a hard fought win over Sevilla vindicated Zidane’s calmness and faith in the team, with the players turning up on the big occasion as they so often do for their coach.
Then came the Champions League clash with Borussia Monchengladbach, where the build up of the game being like a ‘final’ was quickly put to bed thanks to two excellent Karim Benzema headers.
The final manoeuvre in Zidane’s three-point turn out of the crisis was the Madrid derby, in which there was only one side which looked like winning from the very start, although it was certainly not as easy as they made it look.
Amid Real Madrid’s turnaround in fortunes were a few team talks from captain Sergio Ramos, who helped to get his colleagues in focus for the massive tasks which lay ahead.
Zidane is known for sticking by those who have carried him through in difficult spells of the past, yet this time it seems clear that Marcelo and Isco no longer fall into that category. The Brazilian hasn’t played in any of the last four encounters, while Isco appeared against Shakhtar, only to disappear again.
It’s not the first time that Zidane manages to turn around a tough situation where it seemed like there was no exit in sight, and it probably won’t be the last.