At the first duel on the benches between Zinedine Zidane and Ronald Koeman, the French coach arrived with the need to extend his good line at the Camp Nou. The first round came out the winner, reinforced in a season of wear and tear due to the obligation of continuous demands.
The second, this Saturday, with a more rolling Barcelona, presents a pulse of transcendence. The classic gives Koeman a chance for revenge against Zidane. With more months at the helm, after having earned his continuity with a job valued by his players and the new board headed by Joan Laporta.
Not having hit the key to avoid a new elimination of ‘Champions’, leaving the competition in the round of 16 against PSG, does not affect the continuous recovery in LaLiga Santander. To a point of the head. With the opportunity to land a double blow at the Alfredo Di Stéfano stadium. To Real Madrid in his stadium, taking him away from the pulse for the title and inviting him to focus on his options in the Champions League, and on qualifying, attacking the leadership to increase the pressure on an Atlético de Madrid with key casualties during his visit to Betis.
Koeman takes the new classic with caution
Koeman had plenty of courage in his first classic, but he lacked reaction from the bench in the reading of the game, which Real Madrid won 1-3. He showed that the stripes with him do not depend on age and put the beardless Pedri and Ansu Fati to play in a great date, at a time during the course in which Coutinho was imposed on Dembélé and Antoine Griezmann started one of those on the bench matches they score.
But his team started from the lack of stability in the double pivot, without solutions Sergio Busquets or De Jong to the surprise of Zidane in his eleven. The figure of the Uruguayan Fede Valverde lived his great moment. Imposing his physique, breaking lines with ball driving, attacking depth and providing arrival with a goal that broke the game as soon as it started.
Zidane knows more about classics than Champions
With a lesson from Toni Kroos, leader in the creation with a 93% success in the pass, 62 good of 69 attempts in a player who risks in the long movement. Real Madrid made a commitment in the first chapter of the classic and showed all the support of the squad to their coach when doubts arose.
‘Zizou’ arrived at a low moment, after losing to Cádiz in the League in a preview of the weakness at home against teams from other battles and falling with a crash at Di Stéfano against Shakhtar. Suddenly doubts appeared. And he opted to seat Luka Modric in what could be sensed as the beginning of the end until the Croatian went on to exhibit the best of his images; with Nacho chosen as a winger before the loss of Dani Carvajal the day that an injury caused the last resort, Lucas Vázquez of 2, to end up being a solution for the entire season.
The penalty scored by Sergio Ramos and the final sentence by Modric, left Ansu Fati’s goal for nothing in his first appearance in a classic.
Koeman knew how to beat Real Madrid. He had done it with Valencia in the 2007/08 season. It was the day he won the Santiago Bernabéu, on March 23, 2008, with a double by David Villa and a goal by Javier Arizmendi (2-3). Twelve years later he found no solutions at the Camp Nou to overcome the united lines of Zidane’s team.
It took too long to make changes, putting Trincao, Griezmann and Dembélé on the field with eight minutes remaining. Finding with so many forwards the opposite effect to what he was looking for. With the lesson learned he will arrive in Madrid, with his more rested team to go out for possession and make a Real Madrid run that comes from doing a great physical exhaustion against Liverpool.
Causes Zidane to meditate on tactical tweaks. Because in front they will have a different Barcelona, with a 3-5-2 that has given them stability. It is the same system that Zidane used to protect himself in the big events and repeat the formula for success that drove him to the conquest of the last League. Concede few goals and trust in scoring thanks to the quality of his players in the offensive phase.
However, Ramos’ muscle injury and Raphael Varane’s coronavirus positive raise doubts. Against Liverpool he went for a good result in the first leg of the quarter-finals and recovered the trident with great results. Vinicius flew and Asensio scored for the fourth consecutive game. Returning to the formula of the three centrals would cause one of the two to start the duel on the bench, Marcelo entering the left lane and Mendy passing as third central.
At the Camp Nou, where he is the coach with the best results in the history of the white club, he came out with an offensive trident. Without Eden Hazard, still unprecedented against Barça due to injuries, with Asensio and Vinicius plus Karim Benzema as a great reference. Everything indicates that he will repeat looking for success in a week that sets the course and could not have started better for his interests.