Zidane exudes confidence



Zinedine Zidane is adamant that Real Madrid are going to have a good season in 2019/20. Los Blancos have just completed one of their worst pre-seasons in recent memory, with very few positives emerging from it. The problems that were evident last year in terms of scoring goals and defensively are still there, and with their LaLiga Santander campaign getting underway on Saturday, there are some who are worrying for the season ahead.

The Real Madrid boss, however, is not one of those. Even when they were losing matches in pre-season, Zidane tried to find hope. “We’re going to be motivated, I have no doubt,” he said after losing 7-3 to Atletico Madrid. “Our season is going to be good, I’m convinced.” After losing to Tottenham Hotspur in Munich, Zidane took it a step further. “The Madrid fans do not need to be worried, I am always positive,” he stated. “Always. I know it is complicated because we have just finished a difficult season and because things have not started well. I know that we have a great team – what we need is to win a game. We just need that.”

What Zidane has decided to do it to build a wall around his team, blocking out any external pressure or criticism that has come their way. In press conferences he has regularly spoken about arrivals and departures, while he still has three players in his squad who he thought would have gone weeks ago: Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Mariano Diaz.

Perhaps most notably, Zidane’s No.1 request is not at Real Madrid. Paul Pogba was the French coach’s top target and he believes that the midfielder is the only player who could improve Los Blancos’ entire ecosystem. Pogba’s arrival would have been a boost to the entire squad, while Zidane’s often underwhelming midfield would have been instantly improved. However, Pogba is still a Manchester United player. The transfer window is open in Spain until September 2, but it seems very unlikely that United would allow him to leave, particularly as the window is not shut in England. Unless there is a radical change, it seems that Pogba will remain at Old Trafford.

Van de Beek, yes but no

Without the addition at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, which would have made sense of the evolution rather than revolution theory that Zidane discussed towards the end of last season, the Frenchman seems set to stick with the players that led him to three consecutive Champions League triumphs.

Real Madrid have an agreement with Donny van de Beek, but the Ajax midfielder’s arrival has not been sealed because Zidane is unsure of what it is exactly what his side needs, aside from the presence of Pogba in midfield.

That is not to say that Zidane doesn’t think that he is a good player, but he believes that he already has alternate solutions in the middle of the park. For him, only Pogba would suffice. If September 2 comes and Pogba is still a United player, Zidane will simply stick with the current squad he has.

Zidane has exuded confidence in recent weeks, despite Real Madrid’s struggles, but even he is aware that a slip-up away to Celta will plunge them into crisis. Ironically, Celta were the first team Zidane faced after returning as head coach amidst a sea of optimism. Now, the sensation going into the game is one of pessimism. Real Madrid need to pick up good results from the first match of the campaign. The first test is here and Vigo is the stage.