17th March, 2019
A very fruitful re-union it was for Isco and Zidane as the former scored the first goal against Celta Vigo on Saturday.
The good old days seem to be surely back at Real Madrid as the atmosphere has changed considerably to a real positive one with the return of talismanic manager, Zinedine Zidane to the Bernabeu.
This was very visible Saturday evening as the Spanish giants dispatched Celta Vigo 2-0 at home in a Ligaliga fixture that marked Zidane’s first game in charge of the team since his recent return to Real Madrid as coach.
The make-up of the team itself reminds one of the good old days of the Real Madrid team that dominated the Champions’ League Competition in recent years under the amiable coach as players like Marcelo, Isco, Bale and Navas made a return to first team duties. The notable missing name in the line-up of course is that of the ‘big guy’ himself – Cristiano Ronaldo who is now making headlines with Italian giants, Juventus.
In the mach against Celta Vigo, Isco and Gareth Bale celebrated their Real Madrid returns under Zinedine Zidane by sealing a 2-0 LaLiga win over Celta Vigo.
It is a fact that Santiago Solari gave Isco a minimal role in his plans but, after Zidane was reappointed to end the Argentinian’s ill-fated tenure, the Spain international returned to the starting XI alongside the similarly ostracised Bale, Marcelo and Keylor Navas.
In the course of the game, Gareth Bale hit the crossbar and was fortunate not to be sent off, while Navas brilliantly prevented Maxi Gomez from putting relegation-threatened Celta ahead amid an all-action showing from Marcelo.
After a whole lot of nail-biting misses by the home team, it was Isco who broke the deadlock after the hour before Bale scored the second 13 minutes from time, moving Madrid two points behind city rivals Atletico in second ahead of their trip to Athletic Bilbao later on Saturday.
Keylor Navas, who replaced Thibaut Courtois in goal, made a stunning reaction save from Gomez’s 16th-minute header and Celta retained a threat on the counter-attack throughout.
Gareth Bale then struck a 30th-minute scissors kick against the bar while Sergio Ramos headed wide after Ruben Blanco diverted a rasping Marcelo strike behind.
In the first-half stoppage time, the Wales forward crossed for Karim Benzema to roll into the net but was correctly penalised for crashing an elbow into Kevin Vazquez’s face and fortunate to only see a yellow card.
Bale took yet another risky venture as he went sliding into Sofiane Boufal in the 53rd minute, the act of turning his studs to the turf before contact enough to spare him.
Luka Modric would have given Madrid the lead when he drove home from Toni Kroos’ partially cleared corner, only for a Raphael Varane to be ruled offside and interfering by a VAR review.
The much awaited first goal for Real Madrid finally came after 61 minutes as Madrid constructed the type of sharp break that became a hallmark of Zidane’s initial reign and Isco slid home Benzema’s low cross before departing to a standing ovation.
Celta’s Blanco had tried to thwart Bale and Benzema, but the former skipped through a flagging backline to clip in a right-footed shot off the post.
Even though an extensive renovation job is expected at Madrid during the close-season, but Zidane has not lost the Midas touch when it comes to coaxing the best from those already in the building on this evidence.
A lively attacking showing from Marcelo caught the eye, somewhat at odds with the sullen figure who spent the final weeks of Solari’s reign on the bench amid questions over his fitness and application in training.
It is equally impossible to imagine Ballon d’Or winner Modric being similarly sullied or needing the type of ego massage a handful of his team-mates appear to have welcomed from Zidane.
The mercurial Croatia international ticked away beautifully in midfield throughout this encounter, as he has during the darkest moment of Madrid’s soap-opera season.
As for Gareth Bale, he did not sulk under Solari, he got angry. The reappointment of a coach with whom he fell out of favour towards the end of last season meant his inclusion was a surprise. No Madrid player went closer to scoring before half-time and he wrapped up the points, but Bale could have been sent off twice. There are more level-headed ways – his friend Modric stands as an example – to show your commitment to the cause.