Not being rich means that you cannot succeed, at least not in the Champions League
Real Madrid’s performance in their Champions League semi-final firstleg win over Atletico was probably their best under Zinedine Zidane. It wasn’t just that they won 3-0; it was that, after a slightly chaotic opening in which Atletico were far more open than usual, they controlled the game, rarely looking like conceding – which, given they had kept only one clean sheet in their previous 16 games, was somewhat unexpected.
That was Zidane’s 81st game in charge of Real. They had scored in all of them and lost only six times. And yet, on the brink of a Champions League Final and level on points at the top of La Liga with a game in hand, Zidane’s future was reportedly in doubt.
In any other era, that would seem ridiculous, yet many of the questions about Zidane are legitimate. In nine of the 16 games leading up to the Champions League semi-final, Madrid fell behind. That they lost only twice – three times if you count the Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich when they were 2-1 down after 90 minutes but won 4-2 in extra-time – says much for their character and self-belief, as well as their talent, but it also suggests they cannot control games.
When Manchester United won the treble in 1998-99, they made the comeback a trademark, but even Alex Ferguson was eventually forced to admit that the gung-ho attacking of that most remarkable of seasons was not sustainable in the long term.
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