Another major trophy in Zidane's young coaching career
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 04, 2017 09:29 AM
Real Madrid's head coach Zinedine Zidane celebrates with the trophy at the end of the Champions League soccer final between Juventus and Real Madrid at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, June 3, 2017. Real won the match 4-1. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Not a bad start for Zinedine Zidane.
Only 18 months into his first head coaching job, the France great is lifting his fifth trophy with Real Madrid.
Zidane managed the Spanish club to a second successive Champions League crown with a commanding 4-1 win over Juventus on Saturday, adding to triumphs in the Spanish league, the Club World Cup, and the European Super Cup.
He became the first coach to win back-to-back titles in the Champions League era.
"If you had told me that I would have won all of this as a coach, I wouldn't have believed it," Zidane said. "I'm happy, I'm incredibly satisfied."
As a player, he was in two consecutive Champions League finals with Juventus, losing both times, including to Madrid in 1998. He finally won the Champions League as a Madrid player in 2002, scoring an amazing volley in the final against Bayer Leverkusen in Glasgow, Scotland.
One of Madrid's greatest players, Zidane was an assistant to Carlo Ancelotti when Madrid won the Champions League in 2014.
After a stint guiding Madrid B, Zidane replaced coach Rafa Benitez when the squad was in crisis in early 2016, and quickly got it back on track.
He used different formations and successfully resorted to rotations to keep his top players fresh at the important moments of the season, including Cristiano Ronaldo, who was rested like never before. Ronaldo scored twice in the final, finishing the season with 16 goals in his last 10 games.
"It was a good decision by me and by the coach, and I'm very happy with how it turned out," Ronaldo said.
The Portugal forward said Zidane helped Madrid turn things around after a lackluster start.
"Zidane's speech (at halftime) was positive," Ronaldo said. "He believed in us, and in the second half we showed that we were better."
Zidane opted to leave Gareth Bale out of the starting lineup even though the Cardiff native was fully recovered from his injuries. He kept Francisco "Isco" Alarcon in the team, and it paid off with another good performance by the Spain international. Bale was substituted in in the 77th with the game already under control, receiving a proper ovation by his hometown fans.
Zidane has only one year left in his contract, but is widely expected to remain at the team's helm.
"Now we have to enjoy all of this," he said. "Then we will get some rest and later we will start thinking about next season."
More AP Champions League coverage: http://apne.ws/2lgcPZm
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni