Real Madrid: Zidane provides the antidote to the 'FIFA virus'

The Real Madrid manager has never been beaten after an international break, with a record of nine wins and two draws from 12 games after FIFA fixtures.

International breaks often leave club managers playing catch-up when their players return fatigued or carrying the odd knock, leading to adverse results that are always attributed to the so-called “FIFA virus” but in the case of Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane appears to have found an antidote.

During his time at the helm, Zidane has contested 11 games immediately after international fixtures and remains unbeaten, winning nine and drawing two with a balance of 31 goals scored and 10 conceded.

Last season, after the Frenchman’s initial departure following three consecutive Champions League triumphs, both Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari suffered the effects of the FIFA virus, the former picking up a point in a 1-1 draw with Athletic and the latter coming unstuck at home against Levante, who plundered a deserved 2-1 victory in the Bernabéu. Before Zidane’s first spell in charge, Rafa Benítez also fell victim, losing the Clásico in Madrid 4-0 – a result that essentially spelled the end of his tenure.

Zidane's FIFA cure started with a Clásico win

Zidane's Real Madrid games after FIFA breaks

Date Game Result
2 Apr 2016 Barça-Real Madrid 1-2
10 Sep 2016 Real Madrid-Osasuna 5-2
15 Oct 2016 Betis-Real Madrid 1-6
19 Nov 2016 Atlético-Real Madrid 0-3
2 Apr 2017 Real Madrid-Alavés 3-0
9 Sep 2017 Real Madrid-Levante 1-1
14 Oct 2017 Getafe-Real Madrid 1-2
18 Nov 2017 Atlético-Real Madrid 0-0
31 Mar 2018 Las Palmas-Real Madrid 0-3
31 Mar 2019 Real Madrid-Huesca 3-2
14 Sep 2019 Real Madrid-Levante 3-2

Zidane on the other hand overcame the first FIFA obstacle of his reign in eye-catching style, beating Barcelona 2-1 in Camp Nou in April 2016 with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema chalking off Gerard Piqué’s opener.

The Real Madrid manager has also won a derby immediately after a FIFA break, beating Atlético 3-0 courtesy of a Ronaldo hat-trick in November 2016 in the final Madrid derby to be played at the Vicente Calderón.

The other sides that Madrid have faced under Zidane with the FIFA virus lurking are Osasuna, Betis, Alavés, Getafe, Las Palmas, Huesca and Levante.

Only Atlético and Levante have prevented Zidane from a clean sweep, with both sides managing draws in 2017-18. Zidane takes his side to Mallorca on Saturday night aiming to make it 13 games unbeaten after international stoppages