Real Madrid: Ranking Zinedine Zidane’s individual seasons as the manager

Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images) /

2. 2015/16 – When Zidane introduced himself to the world as a manager

This was Zidane’s first season as the manager of Real Madrid, with him replacing Rafa Benitez in the January of 2016, who was sacked due to dressing room issues. Zidane didn’t have the experience of first-team manager, though he had the experience of being an assistant to Carlo Ancelotti and managing Castilla, and people had their own doubts about Zidane. But Zidane went on to prove that he wasn’t just a great player, he was also a great manager in the making, by winning the Champions League title for Real Madrid, the club’s second win in three years.

When he was promoted to the first team, the team was third in the LaLiga table after 18 weeks and was out of the Copa Del Rey due to an infamous incident involving a suspended Denis Cheryshev being used by Benitez. League title hopes were already gone, but the team were still alive in the Champions League, with Roma being their opponents in the Round of 16. There is a belief that a lot of experience is needed for any top team manager to make his team worthy of competing in the biggest of the competitions.

But Zidane defied that saying by winning the La Undecima in style. The team passed the Roma test with ease, but they faltered in the first leg against Wolfsburg, losing the game 2-0. It was a test of Zidane’s skill as a manager, and people writing the team off before the second leg increased the pressure on him. But the team won the 2nd leg by 3-0, thanks to a hattrick from Cristiano Ronaldo, Zidane received a lot of appreciation for his masterclass in the second leg.

This win gave a lot of confidence to the fans and the players and nothing is done yet, as the team went on to defeat Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City in the semis, and then lifted the trophy in Milan by defeating Atletico Madrid, one of their biggest rivals, in a penalty shoot-out. And that win introduced the genius of Zinedine Zidane to the world, as a manager who won the Champions League in his first-ever season as a manager in the top flight.

And the team were great in LaLiga as well, with the team dropping only 8 points of a possible 60 points. Zidane did face difficulties on the road, by drawing with Malaga and Real Betis and losing to Atletico Madrid, after which the club was around 12 points off the league leaders Barcelona. Bun then team showed an unreal intent in the final stretch of the season, winning all of the 12 final league games for the season, including a Clasico win at the Camp Nou, while also competing in the Champions League.

The team ended just 1 point short of the leaders Barcelona, and they were unfortunate to be so, but no team won as many points as Real Madrid ever since Zidane was made the Real Madrid manager. Such was his brilliance.

Winning the Champions League is a dream for any manager. But Zidane had achieved that in his first season itself. It was literally such a flawless season for Zidane, and it was the beginning of the history that was about to be created by Zidane. Can’t find a better position than the second rank for this amazing season!

Game of the season: 3-0 win vs Wolfsburg at home, in the Champions League quarter-finals. A remontada at home, a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick, Bernabeu’s volume set at the highest level, and Peter Drury’s magical commentary to make this night much more special.

The experiment of the season: Using Casemiro, the anchor, ahead of James Rodriguez, an attacking midfielder