Zidane proves he is not another Di Matteo as Madrid stroll to La Liga glory

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The French coach has led Los Blancos to La Liga for the first time in five years and has four trophies already in less than 18 months in charge


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Real Madrid's title is a triumph for Zinedine Zidane. The club icon took over from Rafa Benitez in January last year and has had to deal with constant claims that he is lucky. But his record shows he knows exactly what he is doing.

Real Madrid win La Liga

In many ways, he was considered as a last roll of the dice by Florentino Perez. After the unpopular decision to remove Carlo Ancelotti in the summer of 2015, the appointment of Benitez always looked like a strange call and with many fans demanding the resignation of the president, he had to get it right.

He did. Zidane came in and Madrid embarked on a remarkable run which saw them close in to within a point of Barcelona as La Liga went down to the wire in 2015-16. And a week after that, he led the team to victory in the Champions League final against Atletico.

For a rookie coach who had been in charge for six months, it was a super start. Still, however, doubts remained as some speculated that he had been fortunate and argued that he may be no better than the briefly successful Roberto Di Matteo at Chelsea.

Cristiano Ronaldo Malaga Real Madrid LaLiga 21052017

But a new season saw more silverware as Madrid claimed the UEFA Super Cup and later, in December, the Club World Cup as well. Both trophies had looked lost before late levellers forced extra time - and again Zidane was called fortunate.

Madrid complete perfect Liga run

But the best coaches are often lucky like that and Zidane's record speaks for itself. In La Liga, he has won seven points more than Barca during his time in charge (over two seasons) and 21 more than Atletico. Now he has a league title to go with it following Sunday's 2-0 win at Malaga.

Ancelotti has won leagues in Italy, England, France and now Germany, but the Italian was unable to lead Madrid to the Primera Division during his two seasons in charge. Zidane, after a near miss last term, has gone one better and is the first Real boss since Jose Mourinho to claim La Liga.

"We are where we are thanks to Zidane's work," Isco said this week. "Thanks to his rotations, we could win a double this season." The first half of that is now complete - with the Champions League final against Juventus to come on June 3.

Cristiano Ronaldo Zinedine Zidane Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane Diego Simeone Real Madrid Atletico Madrid Champions League

There is definitely something in Isco's claims. Zidane's past as a player and a Madrid symbol allowed him to command the respect of this squad as soon as he took over from Benitez and many of the players look up to the Frenchman in a way they never did with Rafa.

Barca comeback not enough to retain Liga

Asked how he handles the egos in the dressing room last week, Zidane replied: "More than managing egos, it's managing people. That's special and it's more important than any tactics."

In that respect, he is reminiscent of former Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque (his ex-boss at Real) and also Ancelotti - yet he has the kudos as a club legend as well. A top tactician he may not be, at least not yet, and the side's setup in the recent Clasico loss at home to Barca brought criticism, but he does seem to know how to get the very best out of a strong squad, while resting Ronaldo has helped the team advance to the final of the Champions League for a second season running.

So it is much more than just luck. Zidane is the first Madrid boss to win a Champions League and a Liga title since Del Bosque back in 2002 and 2003 - and it is time to recognise that he too is a top class manager.

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