Real Madrid won 17 of its last 20 La Liga matches this past spring and only lost once in that stretch.
Including an impressive come-from-behind victory at the Camp Nou, Real Madrid rolled off 12 straight victories to end the season and fell only one point short of Barcelona in the title race.
In 2016-17, La Liga is Real Madrid’s primary focus, as the team has won the Champions League twice in the past three years but has not claimed the domestic league since 2012, back when Jose Mourinho snarled orders and clawed at opponents on the sidelines of the Santiago Bernabeu.
Manager Zinedine Zidane silenced doubters with a Champions League title in his first half-season at the helm, but the manner in which the former French midfielder galvanized and led the squad in La Liga and in the Champions League suggests that Zizou can help the Spanish giants stomp their opposition and end the half-decade domestic league drought.
After 20 matches, Zidane’s record of 17 wins, two draws and only one defeat is the greatest managerial start in the history of the club.
Under Zidane, Real Madrid seemingly finally found stability and consistency.
The revolving door of managers finally went out of service after Zidane stepped through it, and Real Madrid appears capable of reclaiming national superiority and restoring local authority.
Not surprisingly, Real Madrid’s furious late-season form proved to be the best finish in Spain and coincided with Zidane’s takeover.
The sample size suggests the results were no coincidence, and the 12-match winning streak to end the season suggests that Zidane has the ability to return the La Liga crown to the capital.
Real Madrid has struggled to maintain its grip over local rival Atletico Madrid in recent years.
With Zidane, though, Real topped Atletico in the final table and outlasted Los Rojiblancos in the Champions League final.
Subtly and via the narrowest of margins, Zidane has restored a bit of normalcy to the local city rivalry.
One should mention that Zidane’s only league defeat and only home defeat arrived at the hands of Diego Simeone’s methodical Atletico Madrid squad.
So, the rivalry has not entirely tilted away from the Vicente Calderon just yet, but the tide may be turning.
Of course, Zidane can no longer play on the pitch, so he must rely on the squad of superstars led by projected 2016 Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
In the four seasons since Real Madrid last won the Spanish Primera Division, the Portuguese attacker has scored 148 league goals at an astronomical average of 37 goals per season.
Back when Real Madrid won the league in 2012, Ronaldo scored a mere 46 goals.
Lionel Messi had 50 goals that season for Barcelona, proving it takes more than one player or bags of goals to win the league.
If the 2016 European Championships provided any hints at the narrative of the Real Madrid season to come, Ronaldo is going to continue scoring goals and come through in big moments, but Gareth Bale is the more dynamic player of the present and primed to be the heartbeat of the attack.
Bale’s impressive summer performance carried Wales to the semifinals in France, where Ronaldo and Portugal overpowered a depleted Welsh squad handicapped by suspensions and lack of depth.
Beyond Bale and Ronaldo, the European Championships reinforced the technical skill and positional knowledge of Portuguese defender Pepe, though his acting skills still remain shameful and make it tough to endorse the Brazilian-born center back.
With French international Rafael Varane back from injury and the omnipresent Sergio Ramos fit as a fiddle, Real Madrid’s defense appears strong at the start the season.
Marcelo has looked especially refreshed during the preseason after Brazil chose to overlook the left back for both the Copa America Centenario and the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In the midfield, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric continue pushing the pendulum back and forth to control the timing of the team.
The Euros emphasised that these two midfielders play in an elevated class that includes only the most competent of players.
Add in the emergence of a defensive-minded midfielder like Casemiro, and Kroos and Modric extend their incisive influences further up the field to great effect.
Isco, Lucas Vazquez and Mateo Kovacic provide capable depth for a midfield strong enough to win a 38-round championship.
Source: Yahoo Sports