The penultimate? roar of the old guard

They say old rockers never die. The same could apply to Zinedine Zidane’s Praetorians, who roared again when many had already written their epitaph. Squeezing to the maximum the football flow of veterans dressed in a thousand and one nights of glory, the Marseillais raised Real Madrid in the strangest year in memory, showing that the competitive gene of the Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Varane, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos or Benzema is not affected by the passage of time or by their intake of titles.

Two more went to the crop of the famous old guard of Real Madrid in this 2020 that now ends and that the whites opened by conquering in the distant Saudi lands the Spanish Super Cup. Valencia, in the semifinals that recorded an Olympic goal from Kroos, and Atlético, in a final resolved in the penalty shoot-out, succumbed on the way of the whites to the title of a tournament that premiered format and that ended thirteen months of drought. Hardly a Club World Cup fell into the showcases of the Santiago Bernabéu while Zidane remained away from the bench. Eleven months after his return, the whites once again raised a trophy. It would not be the last of the course.

On July 16, Alfredo Di Stéfano lived a night out. The Castilla stadium, an emergency shelter due to the pandemic and the works at the Santiago Bernabéu, crowned Real Madrid as champion of an unusual league that stopped in March and was reborn in June. With a heartbreaking emptiness in the stands, the whites, who had said goodbye to the La Castellana coliseum by defeating Barça in the classic on March 1 before taking the championship back uphill with a poor performance at Benito Villamarín a week later , added against Villarreal their tenth victory in as many games after the break and fastened the title that Zidane had set as a priority, even ahead of the Champions League. “It is one of the best days that I have lived as a professional”, valued the skipper of the boat, of which Sergio Ramos assured that everything he touches is “holy hand” and that Florentino Pérez described as “a blessing” for the entity by Concha Espina.

The shower of congratulations was nothing but a faithful reflection of the team’s communion with a technician used to splitting his face for his pupils, even in the most turbulent times. And vice versa. Why the hard core of the dressing room has always responded when the Frenchman was on the brink of the scaffold. Not surprisingly, the year has also been lavish in stormy settings.

A cyclothymic team

The ‘harakiri’ in Villamarín could well have opened a crisis if the ball did not stop due to the damn pathogen That keeps the world in check The Real Madrid players took advantage of those dark months to reset their minds and return with renewed spirits. Short of gunpowder, they made defensive solvency the pillar of their resurrection. But the change of season cracked the wall and returned a Cyclothymic team, capable of assaulting the Camp Nou, San Siro or Sánchez-Pizjuán at the same time that it gave up in Valdebebas against Shakhtar, Cádiz or Alavés.

The devaluation of a bench that was capital for the historic double of the 16-17 campaign With figures of the caliber of Morata, Asensio, James or Isco, at that time full of life, he left Zidane without plan B, despite the fact that the Frenchman clung to rotations as a formula to try to make sure that no one was left off the hook. His determination to recover Marcelo or Isco came face to face with reality. The jump between the starters and the substitutes is abysmal. There are no longer twenty or twenty-two footballers to turn to at any time without noticing the change of stickers. Fifteen or sixteen, at the most. Especially when lesions are primed with Hazard, who has spent much more time in the infirmary than on the green since landing in Chamartín with galactic pomp.

The pending revolution

So, after investing 303 million euros in signings in the summer of 2019, of which the 48 disbursed by Mendy plus the 45 by Rodrygo are barely paying for the future, and keep the safe intact in the next summer window due to the reduction in income derived from the pandemic, Zidane again clings to his bodyguard, while the club makes calculations with the renewals of Sergio Ramos, Modric and Lucas Vázquez. For the technician there is no doubt that they still have the odd roar.




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