After going through some humiliating defeats in the past couple of months, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez decided to give Santiago Solari the boot and re-appoint fan favourite and club legend Zinedine Zidane as the old-new manager. As most of you probably know, Zidane was the “brain” behind Real Madrid’s tremendous success on European soil in recent years, bringing three consecutive Champions League titles to the Spanish capital. Real Madrid won 4 CL titles in the last 5 years, but this year the club was hit pretty hard with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Zidane last summer. Spain manager was Julen Lopetegui was brought in as Zidane’s successor, but he failed to bring positive tides. So did his replacement, Santiago Solari. Amid all the defeats, it was obvious that the atmosphere in the club was ruined, with clashes reported between key players. Without Ronaldo in the team and Zidane at the helm, Real is out of all competitions save for the Spanish Primera. However, it’s hard to imagine anyone but their arch-rivals Barcelona winning the title. It was obvious that it’s time for a change, with a number of key players performing badly under Lopetegui and Solari. Perez decided to call Zidane up knowing he won’t reject Real, and the French manager signed a new contract that would keep him in the club until 2022. But, can he really turn things around? Out with the Old, In with the New As Zidane stated himself, he’s planning on a rebuild which will unfortunately see fan favourites leave the club. It will all probably start with the midfield duo of Tony Kroos and Luka Modric. Modric isn’t half the player he was in the past couple of years, and Kroos isn’t too far behind. Up front, it’s safe to say that Gareth Bale has failed all expectations. Now in his sixth season at the club, Bale has squandered too many chances to replace Cristiano Ronaldo and fans are rightly frustrated with him. If you’re asking us, the Welshman will be the first player to leave the club in the summer, probably making his return to the Premier League. Bookies are already providing odds on Bale’s next club. There’s a free bet for you to claim at any online bookie – use it to predict the Welshman’s next club and you may win a nice sum of money. Karim Benzema’s form doesn’t spell great things for his future at the club. The French attacker failed to score goals when the club needed it the most. Real Madrid’s attacking line is in dire need of fresh blood, and it will all start with Benzema’s departure. Zidane’s new reign will most likely spend the end for Isco, Dani Ceballos, and other players as well. According to reports, Zidane’s hands are untied when it comes to making changes, and sources close to Madrid are saying that no one will be spared. Zinedine Zidane is obviously bent on pressing the “hard reset” button in Madrid, with a reported prize purse of over €400 million for the summer. Rumor has it that Perez promised Zidane three big-money signings including Kylian Mbappe. However, it’s hard to see the boy wonder leave PSG. On the other hand, Eden Hazard, Harry Kane, Ngolo Kante, and Christian Eriksen look like much more realistic targets, with the Belgian superstar all but confirmed. With Hazard and possibly Kane up front and Eriksen and Kante holding the middle, Zidane would surely form another formidable team. What Are Real’s Chances of Winning La Liga? As you probably know by now, Real Madrid is out of the Champions League and the Spanish Cup. The club is currently playing for one trophy only, La Liga, and it’s pretty hard to get. Barcelona is having an amazing season so far, beating the Madrid outfit in both their meetings. Real is currently sitting third, 5 points behind Atletico Madrid and far away from Barcelona. Due to this, bookies aren’t exactly giving Zidane’s team big chances of winning La Liga – the Madrid team is 50/1 to lift the trophy. Bookies fully expect Real Madrid to finish in the top four – the odds of that happening are 1/2500. As there are many matches to go before the season ends, you can bet in a variety of markets for Real’s upcoming matches. Instead of sticking to the full time winner, there are special markets such as To Win from Behind which offer far more attractive odds. While on the subject of La Liga, you can also bet on the lower end of the table by predicting which team gets relegated. Currently, Huesca is the favourite with odds of 1/16, with bookies giving Athletic Bilbao the biggest chances of surviving the relegation fight (150/1).
- Premier League Review – 2 April 2019
- Football Writers Podcast – 2 April 2019