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Real Madrid: Zidane reverts to age-old formula in Celta win

Having insisted that changes were in the offing at Madrid, Zinedine Zidane returned to the approach that brought him success in his first tenure.

Zinedine Zidane, en un momento del partido que enfrentó al Madrid con el Celta en Vigo.
Octavio PassosGetty Images

After an experiment-filled pre-season, and having insisted that there would be changes at Real Madrid, the opening game of the LaLiga campaign saw Zinedine Zidane revert to the formula which brought nine trophies during his first tenure at as coach(Albeit without Cristiano Ronaldo, its most influential component.)

During the pre-season period, Zidane had tried fielding his Madrid team in a hitherto unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation, in a bid to protect Marcelo defensively and get the most out of the Brazilian's attacking ability, and also to find the best way of fitting summer signing Eden Hazard into the team.

Back to 4-3-3 at Celta after 3-5-2 experiment

He gave the system its first run-out in the narrow friendly win over RB Salzburg earlier this month, before repeating the set-up in the game against Roma (a clash which ended 2-2, and in which the coach was forced to abandon the formation in favour of a 4-4-2 after a disastrous first half).

Against Celta Vigo, however, he returned to the 4-3-3 with which his side claimed three Champions Leagues and a LaLiga between 2016 and 2018. And having reverted to his tried and tested system, it should perhaps come as no surprise that he also turned to the players who had accompanied him on the journey.

Men like Marcelo - who Zidane is determined to get back to his best and who was among Madrid's stand-out performers at Balaídos - and the players that make up his favoured midfield trio: Luka Modric (until he was sent off shortly before the hour mark), Casemiro (who got through a mountain of dirty work, winning the ball back eight times) and Toni Kroos (who scored a wonderful goal).

And players such as Karim Benzema, scorer of Madrid's opener; Lucas Vázquez, a squad member he trusts - and who, having been the first substitute brought on, responded with a goal; and Isco, who Zidane had told was in his plans (he was Los Blancos' 10th-most used footballer during pre-season) and also got playing time.

Once his injury list begins to clear, it remains to be seen whether or not Zidane will continue to place his faith in such a familiar formula...


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