KOLKATA: Managing both sides this weekend will be two El Clasico legends in their own right.
With 30 Clasico appearances between them as players and coaches in La Liga alone, both Ronald Koeman and Zinedine Zidane know exactly what it means and what it requires to play and win the biggest match in club football.
Despite their pedigree, however, Saturday’s game will be the first time they face off directly in Clasico.
Ronald Koeman joined Barcelona in 1989, winning the Copa del Rey in his first season by beating Real Madrid in the final. And perhaps his best Liga goal came in 1994, a long-range free kick in a 5-0 win over Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. The Dutchman scored five goals in 11 Clasico matches in LaLiga, demonstrating the kind of goal scoring ability which saw him end his career as the top-scoring defender in the history of world football (253 goals for clubs and country) and Barcelona’s all-time top scoring defender (88). He was LaLiga’s all-time top scoring defender until Sergio Ramos beat his record last season.
Zinedine Zidane, on the other hand, played Barcelona seven times as a player in Liga (W2 D3 L2), scoring in a 4-2 win over a Barça side featuring the likes of Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o in 2004. His best moment against the Catalans came in the Champions League, however. Zidane scored with a seemingly effortless chip in the semi-final first leg at the Camp Nou to put his side on course to reach the final – the same final in which he scored ‘that’ goal against Bayer Leverkusen.
As a coach, the Frenchman has brought even more success to the club than Real Madrid fans could have ever dreamt of, including two Liga titles (2017, 2020) and three consecutive Champions Leagues (2016-18) over two spells since taking over in 2016. It could easily be argued he’s already the most successful coach in Real Madrid history: Zidane has led the club to 11 major trophies, second only to Miguel Muñoz who took almost three times as many games to win 14.
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