Is Zinedine Zidane’s Champions League Three-Peat The Greatest Managerial Achievement Ever?

Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane

In the modern era of football, few managers have achieved the kind of success that Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane has enjoyed. In just three seasons as manager, Zidane led Real Madrid to an unprecedented three consecutive Champions League titles – a feat that cemented his legacy as one of the greatest managers in the world.

Real Madrid’s dominance in Europe began under Zidane’s guidance in the 2015-2016 season. After falling short in the domestic league, Real Madrid embarked on their Champions League campaign with a sense of determination and resilience. The team was drawn into a group featuring PSG, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Malmo, and after a slow start, they managed to top their group and progress to the knockout rounds.

Real Madrid’s first test in the knockout phase came against Italian giants, Roma. They passed this test with flying colors, winning 4-0 on aggregate to progress to the quarterfinals. Here, they faced a stern challenge from Wolfsburg after losing the first leg 2-0 in Germany. However, Real Madrid bounced back in style in front of their home crowd, winning 3-0 to progress to the semifinals.

In the semis, Real Madrid met Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich – a team that was widely considered one of the strongest squads in Europe at the time. However, Zidane’s men managed to overcome the German giants, winning 2-1 on aggregate to book their place in the final.

The final itself was played against local rivals, Atletico Madrid, in a repeat of the 2014 final which Real Madrid had won in extra time. This time, however, Real Madrid managed to win the trophy in regulation time, as a late goal from Yannick Carrasco was not enough to prevent Real Madrid from lifting their eleventh European Cup.

The 2016-2017 season was incredibly special for Real Madrid, as they became the first team in the history of the Champions League to successfully defend their title. After qualifying from a group consisting of Borussia Dortmund, Sporting CP, and Legia Warsaw, Real Madrid breezed past Napoli, Bayern Munich, and Atletico Madrid to reach the final.

In the final, Real Madrid met Juventus – who had been one of the standout performers in the competition, having comfortably dispatched Barcelona in the quarterfinals and Monaco in the semifinals. However, on the night of the final, Real Madrid proved to be too strong for Juventus, as they won 4-1 to lift their twelfth Champions League crown.

For Zidane, however, the 2017-2018 season was arguably the most impressive. In a season that had been marked by inconsistency and underperformance in the domestic league, Zidane’s men managed to turn on the style in Europe, delivering yet another Champions League title.

Despite being drawn into a tough group featuring Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham Hotspur, and APOEL, Real Madrid managed to top their group with relative ease. In the knockout stages, Real Madrid faced stiff competition from PSG, Juventus, and Bayern Munich, but they managed to navigate their way through all these hurdles to reach the final.

The final itself was played against Liverpool – one of the most exciting teams in Europe at the time, boasting an attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino. However, the final proved to be a nightmare for Liverpool, as Mohamed Salah picked up a shoulder injury in the first half, while goalkeeper Loris Karius made two costly errors in the second half – allowing Real Madrid to record a 3-1 victory and secure their thirteenth European Cup.

For Zidane, this third consecutive Champions League title was the pinnacle of his managerial career. He became the first manager in the history of the competition to win three back-to-back titles, and he established himself as one of the greats of the game. For the Real Madrid faithful, Zidane’s achievement was nothing short of miraculous, and it cements his place in the history books as one of the most successful managers of all time.

What made Zidane’s achievement all the more impressive was the fact that he achieved it with a Real Madrid squad that was going through a period of transition. While the club had always had a policy of signing the best players in the world, Zidane was able to integrate young talent into the squad and give them a chance to shine.

Throughout his time at Real Madrid, Zidane showed an unwavering determination to succeed. He was able to motivate his players, instill a sense of confidence in them, and make tough decisions when required. His philosophy of playing attacking football, coupled with his man-management skills, made him the perfect fit for Real Madrid.

In the end, Zidane’s three consecutive Champions League titles with Real Madrid will go down in history as one of the greatest achievements in the game. He has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest managers of all time, and his exploits at Real Madrid will be remembered for generations to come.

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