This is Real Madrid: Zidane takes solid first step towards safety with Sevilla win

Vinicius Zinedine Zidane Real Madrid Sevilla GFX

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos said it best, ahead of a gargantuan week for both his club and his coach, Zinedine Zidane.

They’ve certainly got off to a good start in terms of weathering this latest storm at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It took a freak own goal from Sevilla goalkeeper Bono but Madrid earned a 1-0 win on Saturday that ended a run of three games without a win in La Liga.

It may not have been pretty but it was a step in the right direction, even if their season remains on the line, as does Zidane’s future.

Indeed, a win against Gladbach is required to guarantee a place in the last 16 of the Champions League, the competition Madrid value the most.

Seasons spent struggling in La Liga are quickly forgotten if the most successful team in European Cup history endup adding to their record trophy haul.

Madrid, though, are also under pressure to get their act together in La Liga, as city rivals Atletico are presently top of the table with the pair set to clash next weekend.

The pressure at the Bernabeu is always relentless, of course, and iceman Zidane is used to it by now.

Having survived the Sevilla onslaught, though, a win in midweek would see Madrid going into the derby on a high, and perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised by Saturday’s win at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

On the five previous occasions during Zidane’s two stints as Real coach that his team have lost two consecutive matches, they have triumphed in the third.

And on the three previous occasions that they have gone three league games without victory, they have won the fourth.

Saturday’s success evoked memories of last season’s title run-in, as they let flair and style slide in favour of relying on grit and guts.

Zidane shuffled his pack in attack, with Rodrygo and Vinicius starting either side of Karim Benzema, and the three combined well early on, very nearly forcing a goal after a mistake by Bono.

Los Blancos were undoubtedly the better side in a tight first period, with Benzema coming closest when he curled an effort towards the bottom corner only to see Bono palm it wide.

Just as they had in claiming the title last season, Madrid kept faith in the idea they would only need one goal to win the game.

And that goal arrived when Bono made another error, positioning himself badly to collect a Ferland Mendy cross, meaning that when Vinicius reached the ball first, it bounced off the goalkeeper and into his own net.

Sevilla threw on Oliver Torres, Suso and Youssef En-Nesyri, which gave them more attacking thrust, but Madrid dug in and refused to let go of their lead.

In short, this was the performance that Ramos called for, and one the club badly needed in this difficult period.

Thibaut Courtois was alert throughout and took no chances with his kicking, after his distribution error in their previous league defeat against Alaves helped put Madrid and Zidane in this precarious position.

It was a performance where every Madrid player offered maximum concentration, with even makeshift right-back Lucas Vazquez holding his nerve and doing his best, despite being ripped apart when playing that role against Valencia.

This was a solid first step, then, on a treacherous path. But it must be followed by another on Wednesday and a third next weekend for Zidane to be able to breathe easily again and avoid the swing of president Florentino Perez’s axe.

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