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Guardiola and Zidane; similarities and differences

The arrival of Zidane at Real Madrid, and the magnificent reaction that it provoked, can be compared to that of Guardiola at Barça. There are indeed many similarities. Prestigious players, recently retired, elegant in both their football style and their mannerisms, highly socially regarded, and both brought up from the reserve team at a difficult moment for their club. For the Barça man back in 2008, then club president Joan Laporta was facing a vote of no confidence and only just survived with the two thirds majority required not being achieved…but it was close. Zidane, similarly, took the hotseat at a time where the chant of “Florentino out!” could be heard around the Bernabéu.

The question is whether Zidane will have as much success as Guardiola, who had more advantages from the start. One of these was that Laporta was in a weaker position than that ofFlorentino now, and this allowed the Catalan manager to take drastic measures like, for example, shedding Ronaldinho and Deco in his first summer in charge, and Eto’o the year after. Another was that Barça had a great youth set-up with heaps of youngsters who from the age of twelve had aspired to be Guardiola, and looked up to him with such admiration. And this conveyor belt of talent kept on producing. When they handed Pep the first team reins in 2008 he was accompanied by Busquets and Pedro, two of those who had helped him achieve promotion with the reserve side.

Zidane, for what he did as a footballer, is respected by his players, but I don’t know if this carries as much weight as that of Guardiola with his team back then. Nor is Madrid like Barça, with its solid youth system ensuring a clear and consistent footballing message, Real having instead a flow of star signings made on the whim of a president who can now be seen once again looking pleased with himself in the director’s box, with Garcia Margallo – Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs - sitting by his side during the last two games. I don’t know either if Zidane is as ruthless as Guardiola to swing the axe when duties are not fulfilled. Yes, they are similar cases, but they aren't identical.