Zidane's challenge: retaining LaLiga title

No Real Madrid coach during the past three decades has managed to successfully defend the league title. Madrid have done it once - with different coaches.

Zinedine Zidane, con el trofeo de campeón de la Liga 34 para el Real Madrid.

Zidane achieved what no coach has ever managed to do by winning back-to-back Champions Leagues - and not just two but three. The last team to have completed such a feat, when the competition was still the European Cup, was Arrigo Sacchi's Inter Milan in 1990. Now Zizou's Madrid face a new challenge - defending the league title.

Beenhakker's double

Three decades have passed since the last coach managed to guide Real Madrid to successive league titles. The last to do so was Leo Beenhakker, whose Madrid side ended as champions in 1987, 1988 and 1989 - the second, third and fourth of the five leagues won by that generation of players, led by Emilio Butragueño (the first was won under Luis Molowny and the last in the series under John Toshack). Since then, in 30 years Madrid have only managed to defend the league title once, in 2007 and 2008 and under two different coaches. Fabio Capello's team clinched the title in 2007, the year of the Tamudazo and Bernd Schuster guided the team to glory the following season with a guard of honour from Barcelona at the Bernabéu included.

In the 33 previous seasons, Madríd successfully defended the league title 17 times. In the 1960s, Los Blancos made a habit of winning LaLiga year in, year out under coach Miguel Muñoz, who led the team to six league crowns. Five of them were consecutive - from 1960-61 to 1964-65 then three more between 1966-67 and 1968-69 (Muñoz's Madrid would win the league again in 1971-72, his ninth title, a competition record). Atlético, who were crowned champions in 1965-66 were the only team capable of breaking Madrid's run. 

Entrenadores campeones de Liga con el Real Madrid

Coach Nac. Ligas Seasons
Miguel Muñoz SPA 9 1960-61, 1961-62, 1962-63,
1963-64, 1964-65, 1966-67,
1967-68, 1968-69 and 1971-72
Luis Molowny SPA 3 1977-78, 1978-79 and 1985-86
Leo Beenhakker HOL 3 1986-87, 1987-88 and 1988-89
José Villalonga SPA 2 1954-55 and 1956-57
Miljan Miljanic MKD 2 1974-75 and 1975-76
Fabio Capello ITA 2 1996-97 and 2006-07
Vicente del Bosque SPA 2 2000-01 and 2002-03
Zinedine Zidane FRA 2 2016-17 and 2019-20
Lippo Hertzka HUN 1 1931-32
Robert Firth ENG 1 1932-33
Luis Carniglia ARG 1 1957-58
Vujadin Boskov SRB 1 1979-80
John B. Toshack WAL 1 1989-90
Jorge Valdano ARG 1 1994-95
Bernd Schuster GER 1 2007-08
José Mourinho POR 1 2011-12

Apart from the accomplishments of Muñoz and Beenhakker, only two other Madrid coaches have won back-to-back league titles - Miljan Miljanic (1974-75 and 1975-76) and Luis Molowny (1977-78 and 1978-79). The Spaniard would later steer the fabled Quinta del Buitre side to their first league crown (1985-86). Luis Villalonga (1954-55 and 1956-57), Capello (1996-97 and 2006-07), Del Bosque (2000-01 and 2002-03) and Zidane (2016-17 and 2019-20) won the league twice, but not consecutively.

Former French international, Zinedine Zidane walks on the field prior to the International Friendly match between France and Brazil at the Stade de France.

Zidane will also be looking to overtake the coach he was assistant to, Vicente del Bosque, as the second coach to have overseen the most games in Real Madrid history. Last season, Zidane edged past Mourinho (178 games), Molowny (180) and Beenhakker (197), reaching 200 games in charge against Eibar (the first game back following confinement) and now has totalled 211, 35 away from the 246 which Del Bosque oversaw. Still miles away from Miguel Muñoz, who was at the helm for 605 games during his 15 years at the club.

No area where no other coach can match Zidane is the pace at which he has won trophies. During his managerial career, he has won 3 Champions Leagues, 2 LaLigas, 2 Club World Cups, 2 European Super Cups and 2 Spanish Super Cups which works out as one new trophy for the Bernabéu trophy room, on average, every 19 games.

The Copa del Rey - the only trophy to have eluded Zidane 

Absent from the vast collection of silverware which Zidane has amassed during his career is on trophy - the Copa del Rey. In the two seasons when he took over the reins midway through the season, the team had already been knocked out of the tournament. In the other three editions, Madrid crashed out at the quarter final stage, eliminated by Celta, Leganés and Real Sociedad. The Copa also eluded Zidane during his playing career. He never won it during his five seasons as a player at Real Madrid (he was part of the team which lost the Centenariazo final to Deportivo in 2002 and two years later, losing the 2004 final to Zaragoza); nor did he win the domestic cups in Italy and France during his spells at Cannes, Girondins de Bordeaux and Juventus. It's a strange omission for someone who as a player won the World Cup and European Championship, and curiously, two Intertoto Cups...