Unlike criticism from the newspaper itself, Marca newspaper that Real’s rise to lead La Liga completely comes from professional reasons.
The core element is Zinedine Zidane’s strategy. Defeat to Levante and Real Betis before the Covid-19 hiatus caused Zidane to be skeptical. But since La Liga returned, Real won three matches in a row. The French military leader not only makes a tactical impression, but also helps students feel comfortable when they step on the pitch.
After nearly a year of convalescence, Marco Asensio returned to the match against Valencia. Before he came on as a substitute, Zidane said: “Your task is to come on in, then score a goal.”
Asensio and Eden Hazard re-appeared in time, giving Zidane more options in attack. In the past three games, Asensio scored one goal and Hazard contributed two assists. The Belgian midfielder has only played 12 matches in La Liga this season, due to his struggles with injuries. Hazard rehearsed with Real with a 5kg weight gain, but he only took 10 days to lose weight.
The physical strength of the Real player did not decline, thanks in part to Gregory Dupont. In the summer of 2019, Zidane invited Dupont to become Real Madrid’s fitness coach. Dupont is an important factor in helping the French team win the World Cup in 2018. Dupont’s mission is to increase the players’ fitness to optimal levels, limit injuries and enhance resilience. Referring to Dupont, an unnamed Real player told Marca in January 2020: “He likes to make us run”.
Zidane also knows how to make the most of the players in the team, to rotate in the fierce schedule. Players who seem to be disgraced still play, like James Rodriguez or Gareth Bale. Young talents like Vinicius and Rodrygo also make an impression when given the opportunity.
In the 14 games before La Liga was interrupted, Karim Benzema scored only three goals. In the last three matches, the French striker pocketed as many goals. Benzema’s goals were decisive, leading to two victories over Valencia and Real Sociedad. This season Benzema has scored 22 goals in 38 matches, none came from the penalty.
Benzema benefits from uniformity between lines at Real. The defense with the guidance of captain Sergio Ramos remained stable. The midfield made by Casemiro anchored to help Real control the match. At the top, the attacking line contributed to Real eight goals in three matches.
The final factor Marca points out is the adaptability of Real when playing on Alfredo Di Stefano. Zidane’s army plays as if they were still playing at the Santiago Bernabeu. “We used to practice at Alfredo Di Stefano. They are not much different. We will adapt quickly,” Zidane said on June 13.