World Cup qualifiers provide a needed break

Leagues around Europe are taking the week off to accommodate for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers taking place this week. For Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, they hope that the time away provides their players with a much needed mental break after a tough stretch of league games the past couple weeks.

On the other hand, teams at their level always are biting their nails until after the break, as nearly their entire rosters are out on international duty. That means they are with different doctors, training staff and of course, coaches. 

Without any action to speculate on, debate or review this weekend, much of the talk has centered around the coaches in La Liga. In particular, Zinedine Zidane. Real Madrid's legendary French manager is on the receiving end of some heat as his men have ended their last four matches in a tie. They have lacked the creativity and finishing ability to put the lesser teams away, and have given up late equalizers to their opponents. 

Cristiano Ronaldo is slower than expected after starting his season off with a goal in each of his first two matches back from injury. Now Luka Modric and Casemiro, the heart and soul of Real Madrid's midfield, are both suffering from injuries. Needless to say, things are not looking good for Zidane.

Reports around Madrid are saying that Zidane is not the savior coach that he appeared to be barely five months ago after leading the team to their 11th Champions League trophy. Newspapers such as El País say that Zidane lack the aptitude to be a top manager, that the team rather one in spite of him, not because of him. 

With Modric and Casemiro now out however, Zidane can disprove the naysayers and show that he can indeed coach a team like Madrid. The midfield is not that deep and Zidane certainly does not have many hard working, defensively minded midfielders like either of them.

Marco Asensio could step in, although he is a different type of midfielder. And Mateo Kovacic hasn't proven to be capable in his nearly two years with the club. Therefore Zidane is going to have to create a new scheme on the fly for the team, while balancing the need for having Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Ronaldo at there at all times as the focal point of the scoring attack. 

Some managers would envy Zidane's position with the plethora of talent at his disposal. Then again, some don't due to the need for satisfying the requirements that come along with it.

Photo: Flickr/ Chris Dehr


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