Opinion: Zidane wouldn’t have reached the Europa League


Since his return to the Bernabéu bench, Zinedine Zidane has seen Los Blancos accumulate just 17 points from a possible 33, comparable with his predecessors.

There are few more illustrative indicators of Real Madrid’s bad season than the presence of three different managers taking the decisions from the Santiago Bernabéu bench. From Lopetegui to Solari, and the Solari to Zidane, none have convinced. It cost the first two their jobs after a short tenure and the third, current gaffer has now lost much of the immediate optimism that followed him upon his return. We will see how much that tarnished image weighs on his future, one that is expected to involve huge changes to the playing staff, and potentially unprecedented investment from above.

Solari edges Zidane and Lopetegui

Clearly a comparison of the performances of Los Blancos under each of the three managers is relative to the teams that they have faced and other competition commitments but, with Madrid expected to overcome most of the league opposition – based on squad investment etc – it allows for a decent guide. In each ‘mini-Liga’ fought it is the initially-caretaker boss Santiago Solari who proved most successful, with the Argentine accumulating 37 points (72% of those available) in 17 matchdays. He took his own chances by putting some of the fan favourites on the bench, and he took the club to another Club World Cup, before perishing within a month. He is the only one of the three whose form would have left Madrid in a Champions League place.


Julen Lopetegui joined in pernicious circumstances after the summer debacle with the Spanish national team, and collected just 14 points (46%) in the 10 games he survived. By the time he was fired, he left the team in ninth position, outside of the European places. The dismissal came, many said understandably, while he attempted to change the style of play with the European champions, aiming to align it to that which had allowed Spain to dominate games, although slow and complicated at times.

Zidane gets little Madrid improvement

As Zidane returned, hopes were high that his midas touch would reinvigorate the squad, although few seemed to remember that the Frenchman’s league run ended with Madrid 17 points behind leaders Barcelona. His return to end this season was 17 points (51%) across 11 games, a total that would have seen them eighth in the table over that period and, like Lopetegui, outside the European places. The hope from fans is that the Frenchman had little chance of picking up a team that was already on the floor in ruins, and so eyes are now focused firmly on the future, with a heavily invested rebuild to banish this season to the history books.

After three years on top of the continent, some suggest that they are allowed to fade for a year. But this is Real Madrid, and their rise needs to be instant after the summer break.