When will this Real Madrid team get the credit that they deserve?

Posted Friday, May 04, 2018 by Marca.com

When will this Real Madrid team get the credit that they deserve?

Praise has been hard to come by for Real Madrid. Champions League finalists, but only through good fortune, many have argued. Any team could have done what they have done with the same luck.

Any team could have remained on course for a third successive Champions League title, their fourth in the past five years. No side has ever pulled off a Champions League 'three-peat,' but again, any team could have done that.

The defending champions were drawn in the competition's group of death this season, making it out of a group containing Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur before being paired with Paris Saint-Germain, the Champions League's top scorers and favourites at the time. Real came through that tie with ease, but any team could have done that.

Then in the quarter-finals Real Madrid faced Juventus, a side who have made the Champions League final in two of the last three seasons. In Turin, they secured a 3-0 win against an outfit renowned for their good defensive record at home. But any team could have done that.

The return leg at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu was a different story, but with a familiar conclusion as Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the 11th successive Champions League fixture, just a week after scoring one of the most remarkable goals ever witnessed in the history of the competition. The winning goal against Juve was scored from the spot, though, and any player could have done that.

Just once in the past four years had Bayern Munich been beaten at home in the Champions League, but Real Madrid pulled it off in the first leg of the semi-finals, winning 2-1. But any team could have done that. And then they got the job done in the second leg, making yet another final to stand on the brink of becoming the first team to win the European for three successive years since the 1970s. By now, you get where I'm going with this.

When it's laid out in this way, the point regarding the perceived good fortune have received in the Champions League in recent seasons becomes rather ridiculous, but this has been established as a common rhetoric. No team has dominated the Champions League in the way Real Madrid have over the past five years, but still many have been lucky, and not up to their billing.

This narrative manifests itself most acutely in the way Zinedine Zidane is seen. By beating Liverpool in Kiev later this month Zidane can join Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley as the most successful coaches in the history of the European Cup, with three Champions League triumphs apiece.

He's only been a head coach for three years and yet some still question the Frenchman's ability. Anyone could do what he has done, I suppose?

What's more, Zidane has time and time again proved himself, not just as a coach, but a tactician and a man manager. Take the first leg of the last 16 clash against PSG, for instance. With an hour played, Real Madrid were second best with the score at 1-1. Zidane introduced Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale and Lucas Vazquez off the bench to completely change the complexion of the tie, recognising the need for thrust.

Against Juventus in Turin, Zidane conversely saw the need for control and started Isco, with the Spanish playmaker a standout in a comfortable 3-0 win for the visitors. Not that Zidane gets any credit for this, of course. He has the most talented squad in European football, they say. He should be winning these games. But if managing Real Madrid is so easy, why did they go 12 years without winning the Champions League before lifting La Decima in 2014?

This Real Madrid team might not play with the style and flair of Barcelona at their peak under Pep Guardiola, they might not even attack with the verve of Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp, but they deserve far more in the way of plaudits than many are willing to offer them.

Their success is clearly down to much more than luck.

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