Real Madrid did the impossible when they won 3 back to back Champions League titles, becoming the only team ever to achieve a 3peat. What are the reasons which led to their success?
June 1, 2020, 10:05 a.m.
One feature of Zidane’s Madrid that is not talked about enough was their fluidity and tactical flexibility. They could pass the ball around like Pep’s Barcelona and counter-attack like Mourinho’s Madrid just as well. Whether it be the 4-1-2-1-2 with Isco in a free-roaming role, a 4-4-2 with Asensio and Vazquez providing defensive cover on the wings or a classic 4-3-3 with BBC’s ruthless attack, Madrid could make anything work.
The playing positions weren’t rigid either. Ronaldo and Benzema continuously used to switch their positions. Casemiro used to drop in a back 3 frequently, allowing Marcelo and Carvajal to play higher up the pitch. Isco too used to drop deep to crowd the midfield.
Hence, it was very difficult for the opposition to predict Zidane’s lineup and strategize against them giving them an advantage before the game even began.
“We fight until the end. We fight and what we want is to win. We never give up.”
This mentality of his is what Zidane instilled into his side. Real Madrid oozed confidence whenever they stepped onto the pitch. They knew they could comeback from any situation. As soon as the opposition thought that they were growing into the game, Madrid would switch their gears on and take the game away from them. Teams couldn’t put their guards down against them because as Cristiano said in the 16/17 final, for Madrid it was “One chance and bang.”
Real Madrid excelled in pressure. Where other teams struggle away from home in the Champions League, Los Blancos enjoyed the challenge. The fact that they only lost one knockout away game during their 3peat attests to this.
As mentioned in the first article of this series, not everything about Zidane’s Madrid can be explained by logic, once in a while, the stars align and the impossible happens. This is as close as we can get to decoding the historical 3peat.