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Following Real Madrid’s 1-0 La Liga loss at home to Villarreal, which is the first time that Real had lost to Villarreal at the Bernabeu in La Liga history, gaffer Zinedine Zidane now seems to be in real danger of losing his job, and following the defeat, he could not explain the problem, which will only add fuel to the fire at the Spanish capital.
As recently as last summer, everything was going so smoothly in the Bernabeu, as they had just won back-to-back Champions League titles and the La Liga, and were widely perceived as the best team in the world.
They had won 8 out of 10 trophies in 22 months and Zidane was seen as the perfect manager to get the best out of this current crop of players in a way in which previous managers had struggled and to think of the France legend’s job being in danger was ludicrous.
However, this season has gone horribly wrong for Real and they look like a shadow of the side that won them trophies.
The Spanish champions are 16 points behind rivals Barcelona already, and Zidane’s job seems to be relying on the last-16 Champions League double header against Paris Saint-Germain, providing the Frenchman is still manager, bearing in mind the tie is a month away.
As a player, Zidane cemented his legacy as one of the all-time greats to bless the sport, and this rough period for Real can actually go a long way to cementing his legacy as a coach in a positive light if he can handle the pressure and turn the club’s fortunes around.
Regarding the recent criticism of Real Madrid’s performances, the Real legend said: “Everything being said about Real Madrid these days is negative, and I do not see things like that, as many do not. I am tired of hearing all this. It is easy to say that everything is bad, you (media) know very well it is not all negative here. But it is very nice to say bad things about Real Madrid, it sells more. ”
Zidane’s irritation here has suggested signs of cracking under pressure.
Real Madrid is a giant club and a global brand, and after two years of receiving huge praise for his accomplishments and his effect on the team, having been 16 points behind Barca after 18 games, the team is receiving expected and unsurprising criticism.
A huge problem for Real is Cristiano Ronaldo’s awful lack of form, with the Ballon D’Or winner struggling to find the back of the net this season, scoring four times in 13 La Liga games in 2017/18.
The last time Ronaldo had such a low goalscoring record was in 2005/6 with Manchester United, when he was 20 years of age. The Portuguese has been producing the goods in the Champions League as always with 9 goals in six Champions League matches, however that still could not prevent Real from finishing runners-up in Group H to Tottenham Hotspur.
To put things into perspective, at this time in 2014/15, Ronaldo already had a record 28 goals.
There seems to be a significant reliance on the Portugal captain and when he does not perform, others in the team have been unable to win games for them.
During an interview with BeIN Sports USA, midfielder Toni Kroos said: “We have to focus on qualifying for the Champions League next season. We have to think about our current position. I think this should be our goal for the remainder of the season… We have to start gaining points once more. This will allow Real Madrid to get closer to their goal of finishing inside the top four.”
For a club of Real’s stature, such talks gives the image of a club in crisis. It is up to Zidane to inspire his players to turn their season around and finish strongly with a testing Champions League tie with PSG ahead and a mission to finish inside the top 4.
Zidane is very young for a coach and has already done unbelievably well in his first managerial reign with the Real Madrid first-team. Let’s hope that the France and Real Madrid legend manages to turn things around, and quick.
The pressure is undoubtedly on.
Written by Sina Latif
Follow Sina on Twitter @_sina93
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