Real Madrid 2016-18
Real Madrid 2016-18
Coach: Zinedine Zidane
Achievements: European Cup 2016, 2017, 2018
Key Players: Ramos, Marcelo, Modric, Kroos, Bale, Cristiano
Star Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
For the first team in the Champions League era a team won the European Cup in three consecutive season, a significant achievement: this had last been done in the mid 1970s and is much harder in the modern configuration.
For this reason this team, managed by legendary player Zidane, deserves its place amongst the greats. There is a feeling nonetheless that this team is not as great as others - it took a while for Zidane to find his feet as a manger (solidifying the team by including Casemiro as a defensive midfielder and switching to 4-3-3) and the team did not dominate domestically in the same period - winning La Liga only in 2016-17. They clearly prioritised for the European competition this club has made their own and are now the undisputed alltime masters of. Furthermore, this was an era when, driven by rising finances, only 3 clubs proved capable of winning this trophy: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich - despite the best efforts of Juventus and others.
The team relied heavily on the undisputed brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo who continued to set new records despite this period marking his later years. In his final seasons he would be rested more for domestic games against lesser clubs and he changed his game to become more of an out-and-out goalscorer, sacrificing some of his wider team play and chance-creating.
Around him the club had an assembled a team of world beaters with good balance across all positions. Ramos was captain and a dominant personality as well as ruthless defender (controversially injuring Salah in the 2018 Final), Marcelo as an attacking left back in the Brazilian fashion, Kroos was a classy midfielder who had won the World Cup with Germany in 2014, Modric won claim the Ballon D'Or in 2018 as he also masterminded Croatia's run to a WC Final, Benzema was an underrated centre-froward who worked hard to create space for the other forwards. Bale would be in and out of the team, being dropped for local player Isco in two of the Finals but he was one of the most talented players at the club, and came on to score two goals in a man of the match performance in 2018.
Zidane perhaps knew the team had peaked when he surprised everyone by resigning after the 2018 victory. That summer Ronaldo was sold to Juventus. This was followed by a shambolic season and Zidane's return but a new team clearly had to be built.
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