What do we really know about Zidane's managerial style as he settles into life at Real Madrid?

World Cup-winning club legend has been in charge of club's B Team

Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid

Picture by: Paul White / AP/Press Association Images

If you've ever read Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team In The World by Off The Ball's European football correspondent Graham Hunter, it not only gives you insight but also a bit of hindsight.

Many of the ideas that Pep Guardiola brought to Barcelona between 2008 and 2012 were first given room to breathe when he was in charge of the Catalan club's B team, where he was in charge from 2007 until his promotion to the first team.

Aside from some of the stylistic elements which have made Guardiola famous, as well as getting to know future first-teamers such as Pedro and Sergio Busquets, Graham highlighted other innovations in the Spanish Third Division that may seem minor, but can make all the difference.

"Barca B went 21 games unbeaten at home and won the third division by a point. There was also the emergence of what would become most famous in the pre-match build up to the Rome Champions League final in 2009 – the motivational video. Fifteen minutes before the final game of the season, the decisive second leg of the play-off with Barbastro, Guardiola showed a video of a 60-year-old father and his son, who suffers from cerebral palsy, competing together in an Ironman contest. In many of the events, the father has to carry his son. Some players later admitted that they went out to play with tears nipping at their eyes. Ten thousand fans in the Mini Estadi saw a Victor Vazquez goal seal promotion back to the Segunda B division."

In a roundabout way, this leads us to Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, where he has gone from head of their reserve team to manager of the star-studded Galácticos.

Clearly, the club hope he can emulate Guardiola's achievements, but what do we know about Zizou's 18-month spell in charge of Real Madrid Castilla?


This season, Castilla find themselves in the Segunda Division B, the equivalent of League One in England. In Spain, as well as in other countries around Europe, reserve teams form part of the league system, unlike in the UK where they play in separate competitions from professional clubs.

Zidane had guided them into the promotion places this season; his side are second in the table, with 10 wins from 19 games in their division.

That follows a 2014-15 campaign (his debut season) in which they finished sixth in Group 2 of the third tier, just two points off the promotion places, boasting the third highest amount of goals scored.

His win percentage stands at a respectable 42%, and that comes as part of a club where the development of players is prioritised more than it would be for some of their rivals.


Zidane has started with a common modern formation in almost every game of his reign: 4-2-3-1. Only once, against Club Portugalete, is he recorded as having started with a 4-4-2.

His son Enzo has featured in a variety of roles, from left wing to attacking midfield, while Norwegian wunderkind Martin Odegaard has also been similarly used on the flanks and through the middle.

Meanwhile, centre-forward Mariano Diaz (22) has scored 12 of the club's 29 goals this campaign, highlighting his importance to the set-up.


One interesting nugget from his time at Castilla involves Odegaard, who has not had the smoothest of starts to his time with Real Madrid.

Back in April 2015, Zidane dropped him from the side for a period, despite the fact that he comes with a huge reputation, because he did not fit into the B team's plans cohesively.

FourFourTwo details the intricacies of that period, noting that after coming back into the team "he played simpler, safer and shorter passes, often leaving the ball to his team-mates. If that made him less of a direct threat, it also made him look a more natural part of the side". 

Zidane is also believed to be the one who pushed for France international Raphael Varane to be signed by Real back in 2011.

The World Cup winner could use his knowledge of his home country's market to bring in more French players as many other managers do. For example, Guardiola has brought a Spanish contingent to Bayern Munich, while Jose Mourinho has previously seen many Portuguese players take to the field for him since leaving Porto.

Zidane has already indicated that the BBC forward-line of Cristiano Ronaldo, an uncertain Gareth Bale who he has already had to publicly remind that he remains an important star, and his countryman Karim Benzema will start together.

Varane may see his first team place solidified alongside club captain Sergio Ramos at the back, while it will be interesting to see if Zidane exercises more caution in central midfield by starting just one of Luke Modric and Toni Kroos at a time.

A big win against Deportivo la Coruna in his first game in charge was the perfect start to life in the hot seat, but there will be more time needed to see how he implements his style on the Spanish giants.

The BBC's Andy West spoke to Off The Ball about the Zidane and Benitez situation on Monday: