Back in November 2015, Real Madrid were humiliated following a 4-0 defeat against Barcelona at Santiago Bernabeu. The result virtually started the end of Rafa Benitez’s time as the Real Madrid manager. Since then Zinedine Zidane has taken over at the club with mixed results to his credit.
However, last night at Camp Nou, Real Madrid did not look like a team who were thrashed 4-0 by Barcelona only 3 months ago. There were few distinctive changes in the way Zidane’s Madrid set up against the formidable Catalans and got the all-important 2-1 win at Camp Nou.
Right from Zidane’s mindful team selection to the way players carried out their duties on the pitch, Real Madrid showed signs of obvious improvement under their new manager. On that note, we take a look at How Zinedine Zidane lead Real Madrid’s Clasico win at Camp Nou?
Casemiro’s inclusion in the starting XI
Rafa Benitez must be kicking himself last night and wondering why he did not select Casemiro when he had the chance earlier in the season. The Brazilian clearly made a difference for Los Blancos by marking out Barcelona’s entire attacking threat.
A lot of credit has to be given to Zidane in trusting the 24-year old’s abilities and asking him to make his first El Clasico start, and that too at Camp Nou.
Gareth Bale’s impact on the game
The Welshman has come back with just one goal in mind – to prove his worth to Real Madrid fans. Bale has often been the escape goat for Real Madrid’s poor performances in recent seasons but he was exceptional last night.
He should have had a goal to his name as well but blind refereeing from the linesman disallowed a valid Bale’s header on the far post. In the end, it was Bale who set up Cristiano for his goal, which eventually turned out to be the winning goal.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s defensive work rate
Deep in the first half, a Real Madrid player was shielding and blocking Luis Suarez’s run to the penalty box. Many might have thought Marcelo to be that player, but instead it was Cristiano Ronaldo.
He pulled off all his customary skills and flicks and chest passes, but the work he put in defensively was commendable. Zidane has to be given a lot of credit for that because, we have not seen that from Ronaldo during his days under Mourinho, Ancelotti or Benitez.
Real Madrid’s defensive shape
Los Blancos were mindful of Barcelona’s attacking prowess and what they can do if given space to run in to. Real Madrid’s midfield (Casemiro, Kroos, Modric) did not press high or were furious in their tackles.
They took their time and made sure they made inch-perfect tackles to ensure their defense did not have to deal with dangerous Messi’s dribbles or Suarez’s strikes.
It was one of the most complete defensive performances we have seen from a Real Madrid’s side in recent seasons. And like all the other points, Zidane needs to be credited for bringing an obvious and indeed a positive change at Real Madrid.
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