There is absolutely no doubt that Zinedine Zidane has had a greater influence over Real Madrid than any other manager in the last decade. He has already won the Champions League. The Frenchman’s team has broken many records in the Spanish top flight in just 15 months. Madrid are sitting comfortably on top of the La liga table, two points ahead of their eternal rivals Barcelona with a match in hand. And they are through to the Champions League quarters. But despite their stellar season, there is still an air of uncertainty amongst the Madrid supporters. And the reason behind that is the marathon month of April.
April might just be the make-or-break month for Madrid. Their season could either take a disastrous turn and Madrid might end up losing in both the competitions. Or they can take a step closer to becoming the first team to defend the Champions League, and can all but guarantee that the league title is theirs after a span of five years. Madrid have to play nine matches in April, which makes it almost a game per three days. So, squad rotation will be very important for Zidane in this period. But it’s not the number of games; it’s the quality of the teams they have to play in April.
Madrid have already played against Alaves and Leganes, and registered convincing victories. Zidane has used his squad very well so far. He rested almost every single player against Leganes ahead of the all-important Madrid derby against Atletico Madrid on Saturday. After playing Atletico, Madrid take a trip to Germany for their Champions League quarter-final first leg fixture against Bayern Munich. Then they travel to Sporting Gijon to continue their grasp on the league. After that, Madrid play host to Bayern for the reverse leg. If these fixtures are mouth-watering, then the next one will be the biggest of the month.
Madrid host direct league rivals Barcelona four days after Bayern, which could decide the dynamics of this season. If Madrid manage to pull off a victory, or even manage a draw in that match, it will be league over for Barcelona. Then another tough trip to Deportivo la Coruna awaits them, who defeated Barcelona 2-1 last month. Madrid end April by hosting Valencia, who are one of the only two teams to have defeated Los Blancos this term.
It is not the most comfortable of situations for a Madrid player or a supporter. But no one can deny that the Merengues are adequately equipped for such a stretch of fixtures in April. Zidane might have taken Madrid to heights no other manager has taken in the recent past. But this is his toughest test. And the 44-year-old has the chance to silence his critics forever. But if Zidane fails to do so, it is a great chance that his job might be under threat, knowing Florentino Perez. All in all, there is no doubt that this is the make-or-break month for Real Madrid, and probably for Zidane too.