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Zidane and Bale key to new Real Madrid era of European dominance

Posted on May 26, 2016 by admin

Gaelic connection: Bale and Zidane key to new era of Real Madrid dominance

"Zinedine Zidane" on Justarsenal.com

Zinedine Zidane” (CC BY 2.0) by hans.griep

Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid side embark on a 2015/16 Champions League final that could propel them into yet another era of footballing dominance not seen since the Frenchman himself was playing for the club.

After the glittering Pep Guardiola years of the late Noughties followed by the ‘MSN resurgence’ which saw them win last year’s Champions League final, Madrid’s rivals, Barcelona, have held the Spanish bragging rights for much of the 21st century.

But with a chance to win their 11th European Cup final against their fierce city foes, Atletico Madrid, on 28th May, a Real victory would send out a strong message to Barca among others, with the Decima winning club currently 7/5 to win the tie – according to the Bet365 Champions League final odds.

Bale needs to step up
With arguably Real Madrid’s greatest ever player, Cristiano Ronaldo, approaching the twilight years of his career, many concerns were raised as to how Real would possibly be able to replace a player of his calibre. His gratuitous amount of goals in all competitions has been the main pillar of Real’s relative success over the last five or so years and it is painstakingly obvious which player is being moulded in to taking his place.

Gareth Bale, a signing brought to the club with an almost £100 million price tag attached, has had a bumpy ride on his journey into Spanish football thus far. High points such as his winning goals in the 2014 Champions League final and 2014 Copa del Rey final have been eclipsed somewhat by anonymous performances in El Clasicos and other important match-ups which saw him come under much scrutiny from a large section of Real’s fickle support. This season, however, Bale has made great strides in a Real shirt and his 19 goals domestically are encouraging signs that he’s finally turning a corner over in the Spanish capital.

Zidane has the makings of a world class coach
Many had their doubts over the managerial credentials of Zidane when he took over the Bernabeu hot seat this season. With his only other foray into club management being a brief stint with Real’s reserve side in Spain’s third tier, it was debateable whether a coach as inexperienced as Zizou was ready to take on a club like Real Madrid even in spite of his decorated playing career.

Memories of his infamous headbutt in the World Cup 2006 final also lingered with the Frenchman’s temperament being scrutinised. But in a season where a turbulent start under ex-manager Rafa Benitez left Real with a lot to do to catch up with rivals Atleti and Barca in the Primera Division, Zidane did a stellar job in only finishing one point behind eventual champions Barcelona.

With Zidane settled, Bale coming good and a rumoured war chest to spend in this summer’s transfer window, only Diego Simeone and his men stand in Real’s way of kick-starting another period of dominance in European football.

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