There seems to be no point in keeping everyone guessing on such an important occasion and it would make perfect sense if that’s the way he’s approached it. The players will then have been able to focus on their own particular roles as individuals and be mentally prepared well in advance of the final itself.
There’s nothing worse on an occasion like this than sitting wondering what the team will be. If you are one of the players who have been in and out of the side of late then you must be wondering whether you’ll be starting this time; and if you are one of those regularly subbed the worry is always in the back of your mind that tonight might the one game you don’t actually start.
Although this is THE major final of the season, Zidane doesn’t allow things that to affect his judgement; but an early announcement allows everyone to prepare properly.
He’ll definitely have known his final starting eleven long beforehand; and he’s the type of character to make a decision and stick to it.
In the season that’s just passed, Zidane has stood out as a manager /coach who has transformed the old image of the starting eleven being superior to those on the bench into a team of eighteen; with those joining the game at various stages regarded as every bit as valuable as the players they replace.
Even Cristiano, long regarded by many to take the opposite view has bought into the whole interchange idea; publically praising Zidane for maximising his performance through selective use of his talents.
In many ways, getting to the Cardiff final has been achieved with an approach that no doubt Zidane has had confidence in right from the early rounds. Of course Juventus will be aware of Zidane’s philosophy and approach; but giving as little information to the opposition as possible is also a lot easier if your starting eleven is difficult to predict!
Having a knowledge of how Zidane operates doesn’t necessarily correlate to how things will turn out on the night though. Zidane’s ideals will have been formulated over many years in the game as both a player and a coach; and he’s now reaping the rewards of his consistent approach.
Never afraid to come up with the unexpected, who can say that once the game starts Real might suddenly change tactics as early as the tenth minute or so; having first given out a smokescreen with their initial approach.
One thing is for sure; Zidane will have made sure everyone knows what they’re doing long in advance and this goes right down to the various options available in open play.
Irrespective of who actually fills the positions on the night, the work in the past week will have concentrated on a specific approach able to be adapted to by whoever starts the game or joins the fray at a later stage.
The expected media focus on whether Gareth Bale plays in his home city or not works in Zidane’s favour tonight as it takes the attention away from everyone else.
An effective tactic used to address this is to tell players individually – but not collectively - that they’ll be in the starting line-up; but not making this common knowledge to the rest of the team.
On that basis Gareth may have known for days what his role in tonight’s proceedings will be; but for this approach to work 100% trust is required from your players.
Zidane certainly appears to have that; but trust works both ways and tonight we’re bound to see examples of that trust as the game goes on. Winning the double will provide the perfect illustration of this.
Hala Madrid y Nada Más!!
How to watch Real Madrid vs Juventus, 2017 Champions League Final
Kick-off time: 20:45 CET, 02:45pm EST, Saturday June 3rd.
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales.
Prediction: Real Madrid 1 (Cristiano Ronaldo) - Juventus 0