Has Zinedine Zidane Transformed Real Madrid?

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By Vaibhav Arakala

There’s something special about Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman’s blend of intensity and charisma has remarkably turned the Bernabeu club around in just six short months.

Though Real Madrid ultimately finished second , Zinedine Zidane said he was proud of his team for challenging winners Barcelona until the end of the season.

The Los Blancos showed improvement after Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez in January , with the Frenchman winning 17 of his 20 games in charge and only losing to Atletico Madrid on Feb 27.

“I’m happy and proud of what we have done,” the manager said. “We had difficulties but we never lowered our arms , we fought to the end. That was the message to the squad.”

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“We have to rest and I’m very proud of everyone in this team. After 38 games we can’t change that Barca are champions. They deserve La Liga , but to my players, chapeau (respect). Real Madrid will have another chance to beat Atletico and win a trophy in the Champions league. Zidane said his team will have to overcome their Liga disappointment before the final in Milan on May 28.

Defender Marcelo credited Zidane for putting Real Madrid in a position to have an opportunity to win the title on the final day of the season .

Real had a slow start and were 13 points off first and in the end managed to cut the lead to only a point

If you’re trying to make sense of Zinedine Zidane’s catalytic effect on Real Madrid since taking over, it’s useful to bring Sir Alex Ferguson’s most famous utterance about Marcello Lippi into play.

What Zidane has achieved, nearly six months since taking over, states that whether he’s a tactical maestro or not, he’s coached and man-managed in a manner that has convinced almost every single one of his senior squad. That’s a massive achievement. From day one until now, there’s been a happier, more intense, harder working, more committed and more unified atmosphere at Los Blancos‘ Valdebebas training ground.

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The fact that Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema have queued up to testify how wonderful it is to have him managing them is less relevant than the testimony of your own eyes. Judge the truth of their statements by looking at the increased work rate, confidence and “bounce-back-ability” Madrid have shown since he took over. I’d argue that in the normal starting XI, there has been a sliding scale of improvement for every player, with the possible exception of Keylor Navas who was already Madrid’s best performer.

Everyone inside and outside of Real Madrid thinks they could guess manager Zinedine Zidane’s lineup and their specific positions without mistaking a single player.

The Real Madrid boss has also dismissed suggestions that a defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Champions league final would be a failure.

Los Blancos go into Saturday’s final in Milan against their city rivals in danger of finishing the season without any silverware.

But Zidane, who replaced Rafael Benitez as boss in January insisted defeat in the final cannot be considered a failure after their work to reach San Siro.

The head coach is without Raphael Varane, with the defender’s thigh injury also ruling him out of the final, but added that Cristiano Ronaldo is fully fit for the match.

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