Real Madrid showing title-winning signs in LaLiga
There have been a number of aspects to the first 14 games of the Spanish season that bring back thoughts to Zidane's 2016-17 success.
There aren't many Real Madrid fans around the world who would argue against there having been a positive turnaround at their club over recent weeks, especially when comparing to league starts over the last two seasons. And the numbers bode well for a second LaLiga title under Zinedine Zidane.
Madrid's title-winning comparison
By some distance, this season has seen the best start since that of 2016/17, the year that the relatively inexperienced Frenchman won the domestic and European double. After three games, however, things weren't looking quite so positive, in fifth place of the table, behind Atlético, Athletic, Sevilla, Levante, while Barça were having problems of their own.
The manager and players have since found their feet, some getting back to full fitness, and are starting to dream about lifting the famous trophy, which would be their third in a decade dominated by their Catalan rivals. Barça have managed to reduce the overall league deficit by taking 10 LaLiga titles in the last 20 years and six in the last 10.
Zidane's Madrid similarities
"We won the Champions League, but in the league and cup... We have to improve there," Zidane confessed the day he returned for his second spell. The truth is that the Frenchman is currently only three points behind that double-winning season's total after 14 games.
In 2016 the team had won 10 of those opening 14 games and hadn't yet tasted defeat. This year Madrid have lost once.
Real Madrid | Season 2019-20 compared with 2016-17 after 14 games
|31 points||34 points|
|9 wins||10 wins|
|4 draws, 1 defeat||4 draws, 0 defeats|
The makeup of the team had clear similarities. A midfield of Kroos, Casemiro and Modric has not changed. Valverde has been added to the current mix to great effect, much like Kovacic did before. In the attack, Isco provided a creative spark alongside Benzema and Cristiano, in general much more than Bale (mainly due to injury reasons), and this has been seen once again in the most impressive recent performances.
A true test of their title credentials is just around the corner: after Espanyol come Valencia, Barcelona, Athletic and Getafe in less than a month. It's a complex schedule that should give us a very clear idea on whether this squad really is capable of delivering once again under Zidane.