Since taking over at the helm, Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane has matured into one of the best coaches in world football. As a player, Zidane was sensational – he could do pretty much anything on the field and he is now using his knowledge of the game to his advantage on the training ground and in the dressing room.
Last season, the former club legend surprised many as he led Real to a record 11th European Cup success; an achievement made all the more impressive when you consider how much of a mess Madrid were in when Rafael Benitez was dismissed.
The Frenchman almost immediately won the respect of his players and led Los Blancos on an incredible run at the back-end of last season; winning their final 12 La Liga fixtures of the campaign as well as keeping a clean sheet in five of six Champions League games en route to the final.
— Yahoo Sport UK (@YahooSportUK) September 23, 2016
When Zizou was announced as the new Real boss, a few European journalists raised their eyebrows at the appointment. At the end of the day, Zidane had next to no managerial experience at the top level and it was always going to be a high-risk, high-reward play to offer him the first team job on a permanent basis.
And what a decision it was. Madrid are now controlling matches in a way that they didn’t under Benitez or even Carlo Ancelotti and there is an aura of invincibility about Zidane’s men – they will be very difficult to beat this season…
The emotional and romantic side of Zidane’s story is fascinating and Madrid fans will always hold the Frenchman close to their hearts – even if things go wrong in the coming months.
But the Santiago Bernabeu is one of the most unforgiving venues to be a football manager and even a former playing legend won’t be given special privileges if the defending European Cup winners start to falter. The Real Madrid fans are among the most passionate in the sport but they will turn on you if you fail – and Zidane will have noticed this first-hand during his playing days.
At the time of writing, Madrid are leading the way in the La Liga title race but the Champions League is the ultimate prize for the fans. There is a long-standing affinity between Real Madrid and the European Cup and supporters are desperate to keep hold of Europe’s elite club trophy.
As of October 24th, Real are priced at 6/1 to win the competition; with the best football odds available at Paddy Power’s website. Los Blancos are looking dominant at the top of Group F and Zidane’s men will be confident of advancing to the last-16 stage ahead of fellow contenders Borussia Dortmund.
On current form, the white half of Madrid look to be the best betting option as they attempt to defend their European crown. Zidane knows just how important this competition is to the the club’s fans and a second successive Champions League triumph will certainly enhance his chances of staying at the Santiago Bernabeu for many years to come.