Zinedine Zidane is fortunate to have a world class squad

Our La Liga correspondent Andy West says Zinedine Zidane is fortunate enough to command a squad packed with world-class quality all the way through

Andy West
by Andy West
10th May 2017

article:10th May 2017

In the end, Real Madrid just had too much quality.

All week, the game had been billed as the cocky aristocrats against the humble labourers and, although that’s a gross simplification of these two clubs from the Spanish capital, it was ultimately a fair summary.


As much as they huffed and puffed and came close to blowing Real’s house down, Atletico couldn’t quite muster the sensational comeback they craved for one simple reason: they were outclassed.

The key moment late in the first half, when Karim Benzema received a long throw-in from Cristiano Ronaldo and produced a brilliant dribble to somehow snake along the byline, taking out Diego Godin, Jose Gimenez and Stefan Savic with a glorious change of feet.

What’s more, Benzema then had the presence of mind and ability to pick out the unmarked Toni Kroos, whose firm shot was repelled by Jan Oblak but prodded home on the rebound by Isco.

He won’t get any credit on the stats sheet but this was Benzema’s goal, and his stunning move summed up the basic difference in quality between the two teams.

Benzema, it should be added, has endured a pretty poor season. He is on course for his lowest goalscoring tally in seven years, and Zinedine Zidane has been forced to endure persistent calls for his compatriot to be replaced in the starting line-up by Alvaro Morata.

But despite his lack of form, Benzema was still able to conjure up a moment of magic which effectively sent his team through to yet another Champions League final appearance.

The biggest key to Real’s success, however, is that this time the key moment came from Benzema, last week it was from Ronaldo, on other occasions it has been from Sergio Ramos, Isco, Kroos, Luka Modric, Marcelo…the list goes on and on, because Zidane is fortunate enough to command a squad packed with world-class quality all the way through.

Even Los Blancos’ most lowly-ranked substitutes, players like Lucas Vazquez and Nacho, would easily command a starting place at practically every other team in the world, and Ramos’ claim that you could pick any 11 players with your eyes closed and still end up with a brilliant team is spot on.

If Ronaldo doesn’t get you, Benzema will. If neither of them do, someone else will step up, and it’s doubtful whether any manager has ever been fortunate enough to enjoy a squad so talented.

Benzema provided the key moment last night, but he wasn’t the only man to play a role in the result because the final hour of the contest, after Atletico’s initial steam ran out, was completely controlled by the Real midfield trio of Modric, Kroos and Isco.

The latter, in particular, is finally starting to consistently fulfil his obvious potential, and it will now be difficult for Zidane to leave him out.

Actually, scratch that: it will be easy to leave him out, because whoever replaces him will also be a superb player.

That’s all Real Madrid have.


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