Zidane leaves Real Madrid: Mourinho comparisons, better without Ronaldo and the return

By Sports Desk May 27, 2021

Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid have made official what has long been rumoured – they are parting ways, again.

The Frenchman’s future at the Santiago Bernabeu was a hot topic for weeks, at times overshadowing Madrid's attempts to retain their league crown.

In the end, despite Los Blancos producing an 18-game unbeaten run in LaLiga as they surged towards the finishing line, Atletico Madrid did just enough to keep their noses in front in a title race that went down to the wire.

The focus for Madrid now turns to finding a replacement: What about club legend Raul? Or could the suddenly available Antonio Conte be tempted by a project in Spain?

And what next for Zidane? As so often is the case with sequels, the second episode was not quite able to live up to the standards of the original production. Still, as Opta data shows, he leaves with an impressive coaching resume across his spells in charge in the Spanish capital.

Better than Beenhakker, behind Benitez

First, the basic numbers: Zidane had 263 games in charge in all competitions across his two tenures in Madrid, winning 65.4 per cent of them.

He achieved a points-per-game ratio of 2.17, which seems impressive, right? Well, perhaps surprisingly, that average sits behind both Rafael Benitez (2.21) and Manuel Pellegrini (2.35), two coaches who did not last anywhere near as long in the job.

Indeed, Pellegrini's time in charge spanned just 48 games, despite winning him 36 of them. In his solitary LaLiga campaign, Los Blancos collected 96 points – good enough for only second place, behind Pep Guardiola's Barcelona. Despite such an impressive points record, the Chilean made way as Jose Mourinho arrived from Inter.

Zidane also finished runner-up in the 2020-21 campaign, unable to quite close the gap on Atleti down the stretch.

In comparison to the notable head coaches who reached a century of matches, both Mourinho (2.31) and Carlo Ancelotti (2.36) exceeded Zidane in terms of points per game. Leo Beenhakker – who won three successive titles in the late 1980s – however, managed 2.11 during his reign.


The reunion and a second LaLiga title

Zidane's second spell lowered his overall points-per-game average, as he won 68 out of 114 matches upon his return. That is a notable drop-off when compared to his time between January 2016 and the end of the 2017-18 season, when he rattled along at 2.29 points per outing.

His win percentage in LaLiga in his initial spell was a mighty impressive 70.8, yet Madrid still only finished top of the table once in that time, crowned champions at the end of the 2016-17 season when collecting 93 points, enough to be above a Barca squad coached by Luis Enrique in the final table.

However, since Zidane sensationally agreed to replace Santiago Solari in March 2019, Madrid have the best record in LaLiga.

That 87-game span produced 188 points, three more than rivals Barcelona managed - though both won the same number of games (56) - and it puts Madrid 12 points ahead of newly crowned champions Atleti.

Having set a ridiculously high bar in his initial stint, Zidane has not been able to match his previous successes in the Champions League either.

Madrid were already out of the 2018-19 competition when he came back to the job, stunningly beaten 4-1 at home by Ajax in the second leg of a last-16 tie. They fell in the same round a year later to Manchester City and, while able to get past Atalanta and Liverpool in the knockout stages in 2021, a 3-1 aggregate semi-final loss to Chelsea ended hopes of further European glory.


Life with and without Ronaldo

It helped Zidane first time around that he had a star-studded squad at his disposal, most of whom were in their prime. Plenty were still around for a reunion when he took over again, though one notable departure had left a sizeable gap in the squad.

Just like his head coach, Cristiano Ronaldo decided the time was right to leave Madrid after they had been crowned Champions League winners for a third successive year in 2018. A move to Juventus broke up the formidable 'BBC' triumvirate, the forward having prospered when playing alongside Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.

The Portuguese superstar departed as the club's all-time leading scorer, with 112 of his Madrid goals coming while working under Zidane. That is the same number as he managed when Ancelotti was at the helm, while four behind his career tally with Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

However, Ronaldo's most successful player-coach alliance in terms of scoring output was with Mourinho, when he managed 168 working alongside his compatriot. 

Perhaps surprisingly, Zidane's Madrid were actually better without the five-time Ballon d'Or winner during his initial reign, at least in terms of average goals for and win percentage.

When Ronaldo was involved, the head coach won 68.4 per cent of matches, his team scoring at a rate of 2.6 goals per game. However, without him, those figures actually climbed to 74.3 per cent and 2.8 goals for. Addition by subtraction perhaps, but Madrid's loss was certainly a gain for Juve when the superstar decided he wanted a new challenge in Turin.

Zidane, too, will now contemplate what is next in his coaching career. Considering his ties to Madrid, the possibility of a third stint should not be ruled out.

Related items

  • Leicester City sweating on Evans fitness after injury setback Leicester City sweating on Evans fitness after injury setback

    Jonny Evans may have suffered a fresh injury setback with Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers revealing he will need to be assessed.

    Evans returned to the Leicester starting line-up for Thursday's 2-2 draw with Napoli in the Europa League after a foot injury but was replaced at half-time.

    The Northern Irishman had returned competitively for the first time since the FA Cup victory in May as a substitute in Saturday's 1-0 home loss to Manchester City.

    Rodgers would not elaborate on the specifics of the injury but admitted Evans was in doubt for Sunday's Premier League clash with Brighton.

    "It probably will do," Rodgers said when asked if the issue will affect Evans' availability.

    "I felt he was struggling to push off, so we’ll see how he is in next 24-48 hours."

    The former Manchester United defender made 28 league appearances last season for the Foxes.

    Leicester had been leading 2-0 against Napoli after goals from Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes, before Victor Osimhen's late double earned the visitors a point.

    Wilfred Ndidi was shown a second yellow card in stoppage time to compound a disappointing end to the game for Leicester.

    “We’re obviously disappointed we didn’t win the game," Rodgers said. "We were in a great position, but we were playing against a really experienced team and we just couldn’t see it through. We’ll learn from that.

    “I said to the players afterwards, there was so many good things in the game, but we’ve got to keep the ball better because by the end, when you don’t have the ball so much and you’re chasing the game, you can tire that little bit.

    “We had some players getting their first 90 minutes of the season as well, and then obviously, their big striker [Osimhen], who’s £70-odd-million, so you can see his quality, and he gets his two goals.

    “Overall, if you can’t win it, even though we were in a good position, you make sure you don’t lose it and the point is a start for us. Now, we’ve got another nine or 10 to go.”

  • Rangers 0-2 Lyon: Gerrard's milestone European match ends in defeat Rangers 0-2 Lyon: Gerrard's milestone European match ends in defeat

    Steven Gerrard's 50th European match as a manager ended in defeat as Rangers were beaten 2-0 by Lyon in their Europa League opener.

    Having reached the last 16 in each of the previous two Europa League campaigns, Rangers were looking to make home advantage count against what look set to be their toughest rivals in Group A.

    But Lyon – whose previous European match was a Champions League semi-final defeat to Bayern Munich in 2020 – had too much quality on Thursday.

    Karl Toko Ekambi's 23rd-minute stunner put Lyon ahead, with James Tavernier's own goal condemning Rangers to their first ever Europa League group stage defeat at Ibrox.

    Connor Goldson could easily have been dismissed for a reckless challenge on Toko Ekambi in the 13th minute as Lyon settled quicker, though the visiting forward showed no signs of being hindered with an exceptional opener.

    Having been given time to approach the area, Toko Ekambi fooled John Lundstram with some fine footwork before curling a sublime finish across Allan McGregor and into the bottom-right corner.

    Joe Aribo stinging the palms of Anthony Lopes sparked the home crowd into life, and Lundstram almost atoned for his part in Lyon's opener with a low strike that flashed inches wide.

    Lopes had to be at his best to keep Ryan Kent, though Islam Slimani might have put Lyon 2-0 up on the stroke of half-time had he connected with Malo Gusto's cross.

    Yet Lyon struck again early in the second half. Rangers were cut open by Lucas Paqueta's pass and though Slimani's effort was blocked, the rebound bounced in off the unfortunate Tavernier.

    Tavernier was inches away from dragging Rangers back into it with a superb free-kick, only for the post to come to Lyon's rescue as Gerrard's milestone match in Europe proved a disappointing one.

    What does it mean? Ibrox no fortress for Rangers

    Of his 50 European matches in charge, Gerrard has won 25, drawn 16 and lost nine, with his team conceding 48 times in total.

    Rangers had never lost a Europa League group game at Ibrox before Thursday's defeat, though including qualifiers, they have now lost three of their past four home matches in European competition, and Gerrard will need to find a way to turn that around if they are to mount a challenge in this tournament.

    Toko Ekambi's quality shines through

    With Memphis Depay now at Barcelona, Toko Ekambi – who scored 14 Ligue 1 goals last season – has the chance to assert himself as a major threat for Lyon this season.

    He had failed to score in his five Ligue 1 appearances prior to the trip to Glasgow, but his finish – from one of his two attempts – was a sign of the quality the former Villarreal forward has in his locker. It could well kick-start his campaign.

    Goldson caught cold

    Just back from injury, Goldson looked way off the pace at the centre of Rangers' defence, with his early booking for a lunge on Toko Ekambi limiting his impact even further. 

    He was still typically combative, winning possession back on seven occasions – a joint team-high – but it often looked as though Slimani had the beating of him.

    What's next?

    Rangers are back at Ibrox on Sunday, hosting Motherwell, while Lyon face the small task of an away trip to Paris Saint-Germain in their next Ligue 1 outing.

  • Leicester City 2-2 Napoli: Osimhen double earns dramatic comeback point Leicester City 2-2 Napoli: Osimhen double earns dramatic comeback point

    Victor Osimhen completed a late double to bring Napoli from behind and salvage a 2-2 draw against Leicester City, who finished the game with 10 men.

    Napoli were behind after just nine minutes thanks to Ayoze Perez's first goal in 15 games in the Europa League Group C opener at the King Power Stadium.

    Harvey Barnes set up the opener and looked to have wrapped the three points up for Leicester in the 64th minute, but Osimhen got them back in the game with a beautiful lob over Kasper Schmeichel.

    Osimhen then headed home a dramatic equaliser in the 87th minute to maintain Napoli's unbeaten start to the season, with Wilfred Ndidi shown a second yellow card in stoppage time to compound a disappointing end to the game for Leicester.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.