Zidane's first diagnosis: the problem is not physical
Real Madrid's new manager, Zinedine Zidane, in his second stint in charge at the club says it was a matter of 'minor adjustments' to help the team's form.
There were various reasons thrown around as to what was ailing Real Madrid this season under both Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari. One theory was that their physical fitness was not where it needed to be, which pointed the finger at Antonio Pintus, Real Madrid's strength and conditioning coach. The same finger that was pointed at Óscar Caro, who was blamed at the start of the season under Lopetegui. After Zidane's first game in charge, he discarded that theory.
"Physically, I see them well," he said after the 2-0 victory over Celta Vigo. "If you start poorly and finish well, it's because you're good. It was a question of a few adjustments, that were for the better. When we don't have the ball, you have to run and the pressure after losing it was good."
It's true that the slump came after a difficult spell in the season which saw Real Madrid lose twice to Barcelona before capitulating against Ajax. Solari used just 14 players during those games and two of them were keepers. He didn't rotate his midfield at all and rarely did he switch up his defense or attack. The result was a meltdown against Ajax.
The performance might be down to the new manager and the rush of excitement that comes with that. And even moreso when that manager is Zinedine Zidane. Zidane said he was not thinking of the future either with plenty of current squad members playing for their future. "Of course there will be changes but I can't say any more," he said after bringing some of the old guard back into the fold.
Marcelo and Bale
Two significant cases are that of Marcelo and Bale with the Brazilian completely left out of the team by Solari and Welsh attacker left on the bench for recent games. The left-back was his old self moving forward and gave nothing away at the back while also teeing up Bale for a goal in the second half. Bale romped forward any chance he got and hit the post in the first half along with delivering plenty of crosses and danger into the visitors' penalty area.