Judgement day for Real Madrid as Zidane's second coming begins
SEE ALSO :El Clasico decision delayed until MondayMany wondered why he came back, risking everything after the perfection of three Champions League titles out of three. The assumption was he returned to a stronger hand, able to make demands the club were ready to meet and with the backing to rebuild in the way he had always wanted. He might have been encouraged too, when Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, Luka Jovic, Rodrygo and Eden Hazard all signed for a total close to 300 million euros. Hazard was the headline act, a throw-back to a previous era that Zidane knew well, when the world's most glamorous players seemed to walk through the doors every year. "I'm not a galactico, not yet, but I hope I will be one day," said Hazard when he joined.
SEE ALSO :El Clasico new date confirmedJames Rodriguez is also yet to leave and there were others that proved more difficult to bring in such as Paul Pogba and even Neymar. In other areas, Zidane has resisted change, backing experience over youth even if many believed experience last season had turned into apathy. Marcelo, Casemiro and Keylor Navas have stayed while Marcos Llorente was allowed to join Atletico Madrid and Sergio Reguilon and Dani Ceballos were both sent out on loan. For all the talk of upheaval, Madrid's line-up against Celta Vigo on Saturday is likely to have a distinctly familiar feel. Yet there could be a new formation, with a 3-5-2 tried after some underwhelming showings in pre-season, allowing Marcelo and Dani Carvajal greater freedom as wing-backs and Hazard to play centrally behind Karim Benzema. And a shift in focus. Madrid have won La Liga only once in the last seven years, their failures in Spain excused only by unprecedented success in Europe. "For us next year, the league must be our number one priority," Zidane said in April. In that sense, Madrid might profit if Barcelona aim their focus at the Champions League. But the Catalans and Atletico Madrid have both strengthened and look ready to challenge again. "La Liga is the longest competition, it's the one that cannot be missed," Zidane said. "I'm going to drill that in the heads of my players." His players. Now they have to deliver.
Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.