Zidane’s main dilemma: A team of experience or youth?

12 Sep 2020

Zinedine Zidane has an embarrassment of riches at Real Madrid.

The first team squad is stronger than last season, despite the lack of summer signings.

Many of the veterans from Zidane‘s first spell in charge are still around, but there’s also an exciting new line of young players coming through.

Zidane’s Real Madrid teams have always been associated with the same core of players, who tend to dominate proceedings.

Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have marshalled the midfield for several years, bringing their technical qualities to Los Blancos’ style of play.

Now, though, with the influx of younger, more physically imposing players, Zidane has a different way to play.

Martin Odegaard is a prime example, impressing as much for his stamina and strength as his ability on the ball.

Both he and Fede Valverde, whose running power is similar, have been labelled as box-to-box types by the first team coaching staff.

Further forward, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes have hit the ground running this pre-season.

The two Brazilians arrived at Real Madrid as outstanding dribblers, but now they have the bodies to be real forces down each wing.

“They haven’t lost their dribbling, but they’ve gained a lot of strength,” say their personal trainers, Thiago Lobos and Marcel Duarte.

These four youngsters, plus Ferland Mendy at left-back, would be in Zidane‘s most physical team, if he opts to play that way: Thibaut Courtois, Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Mendy, Casemiro, Valverde, Odegaard, Rodrygo, Vinicius and Karim Benzema.

However, the players that served Zidane so well in his first stint at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu still have plenty of arguments to start matches.

The midfield trio of Casemiro, Kroos and Modric was imperious in Los Blancos’ three straight Champions League triumphs.

They, alongside Eden Hazard, Isco and Marcelo, would fit into a more technical Real Madrid team this season, sticking to old methods: Courtois, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Isco, Hazard and Benzema.

Zidane has always surprised with his line-ups, so there’s not much point trying to guess what team he’ll put out come the start of the season.

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