Real Madrid’s win over Atletico Madrid in Saturday’s Champions League final sealed their 11th European Cup, and has all but ensured the stay of head coach Zinedine Zidane for 2016/17.
But while impressive to win the prestigious trophy as a player, coach and manager, Zidane now has to get Real over the hurdle in the La Liga title race.
Four years since their last league crown
The last time Los Blancos ruled the roost in La Liga was back in 2011/12 under manager Jose Mourinho. They stormed to the league title with 100 points in 38 games, scoring 121 goals in the process, and losing just twice all season. Real Madrid won 32 games in the division that season, but have since played second fiddle to Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the title race.
Even as a player, Zidane was unable to lead the side to as many league titles as expected given how much was spent on recruits, and he now has a similar problem years later as manager. The Spanish giants finished just one point adrift of winners and fierce rivals Barcelona in 2015/16 (90), having lost less games than any side in the division (4).
Zidane arrival has seen Real almost invincible
Zidane’s appointment led to Real enjoying an outstanding run of form in the second-half of the campaign, winning 12 games on the bounce, while suffering just one defeat from their last 23. And given he’s led Los Blancos to their second Champions League crown in three seasons, many are asking why Real can’t deliver in their domestic division.
There are world-class players in nearly every position in the Real Madrid squad, while a front-three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale should be more than enough to fire them to glory. However, they have lost their nerve at critical times each season, so Zidane perhaps has a mental hurdle to overcome in 2016/17.
Defensive approach what Real have been missing
Nevertheless, in Zizou, they have a manager who favours a pragmatic approach and has greatly succeeded after replacing Rafael Benitez. Zidane amassed 51 points from a possible 60 following his appointment in January, and could set the league alight with a full pre-season under his belt in the summer. Real have been threatening for many years now, finishing with 90 points or more in 2014/15 and 2015/16, so can they go all the way next campaign?
Real Madrid are 5/4 to win the La Liga title next season. But can they deliver?