QN Sport+ Television N.V.

Why Real Madrid look sharp under Zidane

Just over a month has passed since Zinédine Zidane took over as Real Madrid coach – UEFA.com’s Roberto Hernández picks out five signs that suggest all is well.

Real Madrid are unbeaten in five games (W4  D1) since Zinédine Zidane succeeded Rafael Benítez; UEFA.com pinpoints what adjustments the new coach has made.

Isco centre stage

The 23-year-old had a tough start to the season but has responded brilliantly since being given a start in Zidane’s first match, with Real Madrid fans getting a reminder of what the former Málaga midfielder is capable of when playing with a smile on his face. Isco has played 379 minutes under Zidane, as opposed to 12 in Benítez’s final six Liga fixtures.

James confidence back
James Rodríguez also struggled for playing time in the opening months of the campaign. The Colombian international did not start Zidane’s first two games but has been in the starting lineup ever since and is refusing to budge. Gareth Bale’s injury has created a regular berth for the 24-year-old and he is looking more like his old self, scoring his first club goal since 8 November in the recent 6-0 victory over Espanyol.

Variations in the middle
A former midfield great, Zidane has tweaked Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić’s roles in the centre of the park. The Germany player now operates as a pivot with Modrić taking up a more attacking position, similar to the one he enjoyed while Zidane was Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant. With his side on the ropes against Granada on Sunday, the 30-year-old settled the contest with a long-range strike four minutes from time.

Karim Benzema has struck in all of Zidane’s games

Benzema firing
Karim Benzema is making his countryman’s transition into management easier. The forward registered the first goal of the Zidane era, against Deportivo La Coruña, one of seven he has to his name under the 43-year-old. The erstwhile Lyon striker opened the scoring against Granada on Sunday, taking his tally to an impressive 19 goals in 18 league appearances this term.

Carvajal’s renaissance
It is not just in attack where Zidane’s influence has been felt. He has reintroduced Dani Carvajal at right-back in favour of Danilo and been rewarded with some outstanding performances. Carvajal has provided three assists and, coincidentally, the only match he did not start was the one Zidane’s Madrid did not win – the 1-1 draw at Real Betis on 24 January.

Dani Carvajal (R) in action against Deportivo