Real Madrid – La Liga No LaLiga coach makes fewer substitutions
One of the best tools a coach has to affect the course of a game is their ability to make substitutions. Inspired substitutions can completely alter the course of a match, and have won and lost titles in the past.
The new normal brought around by the coronavirus pandemic has meant that coaches are now able to make five substitutions instead of the previous three. Most coaches have taken full advantage of this new rule, but Zinedine Zidane has not.
Zidane won a LaLiga Santander and Champions League double with a strict rotation policy. He deployed one side for league duty and another team was trusted in the Champions League. This was to avoid burnout in the squad and give his side the best chance possible in all competitions.
Over his first 200 matches in charge, the Frenchman sent out 178 difference starting line-up.
Zidane rarely makes change during a match nowadays and, when he does, it’s usually after the 70th minute.
Against Osasuna, he made three changes. He sent out the same side against Athletic Club in the Supercopa de Espana semi-final and made four changes – one of them due to injury – as his side chased a way back in to the game. His counterpart Marcelino used all the available substitutions.
In the 90 minutes against Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey, Zidane made just one change in normal time by brining on Karim Benzema for Mariano. He made another three in extra time, bringing on Marcos Asensio, Toni Kroos and Eden Hazard. Alcoyano coach Vicente Parras made five changes and saw his side cause a huge upset by knocking out the current LaLiga Santander champions.
Zidane is the coach who has made the fewest number of substitutions over all competitions so far this season. This is despite his Real Madrid squad having more than enough depth to allow for changes to be made and players to be rested.
In his first four seasons, Zidane used 96.7 percent of the substitutions available to him – back before the new rules.
He currently barely makes more than three changes per game nowadays and only substitutes at Getafe (1,136), Celta (1,246) and Eibar (1,255) have had less playing time this campaign than the 1,367 of the Real Madrid backups.