The Kings of the Champions League defend their titles without two of their best leaders of recent times, and as Real Madrid prepare for their greatest challenge, they must do so with Zinedine Zidane or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Zidane was the spiritual leader for Los Blancos for the last five UCL titles because the Frenchman has participated in all of them directly since the ninth – which he won as a player and in which he was decisive thanks to his incredible volley inGlasgow.
For La Decima, he was on the coaching staff as assistant to Carlo Ancelotti.
His spirit was present on the bench, and the lasting image of him giving orders on the pitch in the final few minutes said everything about the great influence he already had on the squad at that moment.
It was a warning of what would come later after a stint at Castilla.
The Frenchman would take the reins of the first team in 2016, and would go on to win a historic Champions League treble.
As a coach, he oversaw the 11th, 12th and 13th triumphs in the competition, dominating it to such an extent that he was never eliminated from it as Realcoach.
He left as he’d arrived: winning.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals
Cristiano was the leader on the field, and without his goals, the current streak in the competition would’ve been impossible.
The Portuguese has been decisive and his scoring contribution in Europe, impressive.
He scored 43 percent of Real’s goals in the Champions League since La Decima in 13/14: 70 of Madrid’s 163.
In 15/16, he scored 57 percent of Real’s goals on the way to winning an 11th title, an influence that will surely be noticed.
But there is the challenge awaiting Madrid, to win without such spectacular figures.
Sergio Ramos emphasised Ronaldo‘s contribution but thinks that the team can continue winning without him.
“He has defined an era, has broken almost all possible records, but we can no longer depend on what Cristiano did in Madrid,” he said to reporters in his pre-match press conference.
“Now we have to cover that gap and we will continue competing at the same level.”
A NEW MADRID
In fact, the captain already spoke of a new Madrid without the Portuguese.
“Cristiano took away a few things and he gave us a lot, but now those virtues have to be adapted by the new team to hurt our rivals,” he added.
It’s Los Blancos‘ most difficult European assignment yet.