Tonight‘s Copa del Rey first leg between Real Madrid and Sevilla will see Zinedine Zidane celebrate his maiden year in charge of Los Blancos with the intent of doing exactly the same as he’s produced during his first 365 nights as coach.
Facing the Andalusians on a 37-match unbeaten run, the Frenchman knows that bypassing a notoriously tough Jorge Sampaoli side before strolling past Granada on the weekend will level Luis Enrique’s best streak at Barcelona, amounting to perhaps his crowning achievement.
Plenty has been written about what Zidane has delivered in 2016, but it’s the circumstances in which he arrived that make for the best anecdotes.
Rafa Benitez’s Madrid weren’t in disarray, but they were well off the pace expected by president and fans alike, leading to a great punt in taking on the rookie boss, although on an initial short-term basis.
A lack of experience aside, Zidane carried buckets of charisma and prestige into the dressing room from day one, largely off the back of his stunning volley that delivered Real their ninth European Cup whilst a Merengues player.
Now, having sealed the club’s Undecima Champions League as coach, he takes on Sevilla to kick off 2017, missing Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale and, in Sampaoli, up against a man with his own flourishing reputation to look after.
And the Madrid boss will see plenty of his Argentine counterpart in the coming weeks, too, as the duo lock horns in three sure to be exciting encounters in quick succession. The first of which kicks off at 21:15 CET in the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
EDITED FROM: marca.com