Zidane’s tactical notes that powered Madrid’s El Clasico win leaked
The highly detailed notes place an emphasis on thwarting Barcelona’s attack
by Sunaadh Sagar
A stack of notes that allegedly detail Zinedine Zidane and his technical staff’s notes ahead of El Clasico have been leaked by Spanish newspaper AS. The tactics were instrumental in Real Madrid’s 2-1 victory over Barcelona in the most recent edition of the El Clasico, although whether the writing is that of Zidane was unverified.
Madrid based news outlet Diario AS revealed that they had a stack of notes delivered to the newsroom that contained sketchings and tactical notes about how Real Madrid would line up against Barcelona, with many strategies to contain the threat of Barcelona outlined. What was shocking was that the notes were delivered before the game, which points to a serious leak in the Real Madrid dressing room.
While AS have been unable to verify if the notes are the handwriting of Zinedine Zidane or one of his technical staff, what lends some credence to the authenticity of the notes were that they bore the Real Madrid letterhead.
Here is a collage of the images outlining the tactics written in Spanish:
The major difference between the Barcelona of Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique is the move from a tiki-taka system to a slighty evolved version based on a high press, with Suarez leading the way in harassing opposition defenders. The notes place a great significance on countering Barcelona’s high-press, underlining the need for Real Madrid players to constantly offer passing options to a teammate being closed down.
Barcelona’s engine room is the next to receive importance, as the notes highlight the need to cut off Barcelona’s suply line. Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic ensure the quick transition of the ball from defence to attack and by ensuring the duo are closely marked, the tactics hoped to force Barcelona to attack down the flanks.
What is notable, is that this only worked partially, with Rakitic still able to thread the ball forward. It’s no coincidence that Barcelona lost the game once the influential Croatian was substituted for Adra Turan.
Since Barcelona were forced to attack down the flanks, Carvajal and Marcelo were assigned to mark the Barcelona fullbacks, with Ramos and Pepe marking Neymar and Messi. This would leave a big gap in the centre, which meant that Casemiro would be required to drop deep and play as an auxillary centre-back, a ploy often used by former Madrid manager Rafa Benitez, although he famously eschewed the option in the reverse fixture, which ended up as a 4-0 hammering.
The notes also require the Madrid player’s to be rather adept at picking up Messi when he’d drop deep to receive the ball in midfield, with quick adjustments in shape needed to offset the imabalance. The notes also point out the need for the Madrid defenders to be especially watchful of Suarez’ diagonal runs.
As it turned out, Real Madrid employed most of these tactics quite well, and prevailed through goals from Benzema and Ronaldo in the end, despite losing Sergio Ramos to a red card.
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