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 CURTO DE LA TORRE/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo credit should read CURTO DE LA TORRE/AFP via Getty Images) /

1. 2016/17 – A dream season and the best season ever in the history of Real Madrid

It was an unreal season, simply the best season ever in the history of Real Madrid. One can run out of words to describe this season. Zidane did the unthinkable by winning the UEFA Champions League title again, with Real Madrid becoming the first team to retain the Champions League title in the era of the new format. He also led Real Madrid to league glory by winning the 33rd LaLiga title for Real Madrid, the first one since the 2011-12 triumph under Jose Mourinho.

In the transfer window, Zidane didn’t ask for any exorbitant transfers. All he asked for was a backup striker, and the club got Alvaro Morata from Juventus by activating his buyout clause. And he also included the returning loanee Marco Asensio in his plans. It was a simple transfer window with more sales made than arrivals, but with the addition of Morata and Asensio, Zidane had a perfectly balanced and high talented world-class squad at his disposal.

He kickstarted the season with silverware, by winning the UEFA Supercup against Sevilla, with late a late equalizer from Sergio Ramos taking the game into extra time and a winner from Dani Carvajal clinching the game for Real Madrid. This set the tone for the remainder of the season, with last-minute goals and nervy encounters becoming a usual thing for Real Madrid fans. But these late winners and tight games spoke a lot about the spirit Zidane has instilled in the team, and he also received a lot of praise for his man-management skills.

There were minor rough patches for the club in the middle, with a stretch of four continuous LaLiga draws in September, two consecutive defeats i=against Sevilla and Valencia, and a 3-2 loss against Barcelona with a late winner being stumbling blocks in their LaLiga pursuit. But still, the club fought hard to win every game and took it one game at a time, and clinched the LaLiga title they deserved on the final matchday.

It is difficult for any manager to focus on the league and Champions League at the same time, because of the demanding schedule and the tough oppositions. But Zidane did it with ease, due to his rotation policy. As I mentioned above, he had a world-class squad at his disposal, and he used them perfectly by seamlessly rotating his formation and personnel from game to game.

He didn’t hesitate to rest big game players like Ronaldo and Ramos, so as to keep them fresh for the Champions League fixtures. These bold decisions received a lot of appreciation, and it did pay off with Ronaldo and many other players excelling in the Champions League knockout fixtures.

The team had to face some tough oppositions in the knockout phases with the opponents being Napoli, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, and Juventus. But they cleared every challenge with extreme determination and by stepping up and show showing their individual quality at every crucial juncture of the season. They then went on to defeat the best defensive team of the season, Juventus, by 4-1 and lift the La Duodecima at Cardiff.

The team could’ve won a treble, but they were knocked out of the Copa Del Rey in the quarterfinals stage by Celta Vigo, in unfortunate circumstances. But nonetheless, it was a  tremendous season for Real Madrid under the guidance of Zinedine Zidane.

They lifted a total of 5 trophies in the calendar year of 2017, with that year being the best in the club’s history. It was nothing short of what one can call a dream season, and it’s the best season in the history of Real Madrid. There were never any doubts about 2016/17 being the best season in Zidane’s career, and hence it is ranked first.

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Best game of the season: 3-0 win vs Atletico Madrid, Champions League Semi-finals. A Ronaldo hat-trick on another UCL night, and one step into the final. It was the night for a ‘Cardiff we’re coming!’ moment.

The experiment of the season: Using Marco Asensio as a midfielder in a 5-1 win vs Legia Warsaw in Champions League group stages.