Zinedine Zidane described 2016 as “the dog’s b*******” after Real Madrid lifted the Club World Cup after extra time in Yokohama on Sunday.
A hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo after an early strike from Karim Benzema sealed a hard-fought win over a spirited and dangerous Kashima Antlers side to secure the trophy and extend Madrid’s unbeaten run to 37 games.
The triumph capped a remarkable year for the capital club, who won the Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup before building a six-point lead at the top of LaLiga prior to their victorious trip to Japan.
And Zidane, who replaced Rafael Benitez as head coach in January, does feels their achievements could scarcely have been better.
“2016 has been the dog’s bollocks!” he told a media conference. “For everyone, for the players… It’s been phenomenal and I’m delighted with the work we’ve done.
“There’s no key aspect but what we’ve been doing is improving in every game. Of course we suffer sometimes and we don’t play as we should, but that’s normal.
“The good thing is that we do things positively. We know that, at any moment, we can hurt our opponent.
“I thank my players because what they’re doing is something phenomenal.
“You always enjoy a trophy. We knew that we would have to suffer. The opponents haven’t surprised us because we knew that they could give us a game.
“They ran, they fought, but that’s football. We came here and we won this trophy, which was important for us.”
The greatest of world champions!
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) December 18, 2016
Madrid took the lead after only nine minutes through Benzema but surprisingly found themselves 2-1 behind with a little over half an hour to play after two goals from Gaku Shibasaki.
Zidane reverted to a back three to allow Marcelo and Dani Carvajal to push forward and help the search for an equaliser, with Ronaldo ultimately levelling from the penalty spot before striking twice in extra time to seal the win.
“We had to do something,” Zidane explained. “We were behind and we had to put Marcelo and Dani further forward, but they could only play there for 30 or 35 minutes.
“They ran like motorbikes, and Sergio [Ramos] and [Raphael] Varane did well. Then Casemiro also helped. I wouldn’t discount doing it again.
“I don’t have a voice and I’m tired inside because I haven’t slept well for these last few days. But it doesn’t matter, because we’ve done another great thing.
“Now it’s time to rest. The president was very happy to have won another title.”
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