All or nothing

Zinedine Zidane (r) is fighting for his job after cup elimination to Asier Garitano’s (l) Leganés on Wednesday night.
Zinedine Zidane (r) is fighting for his job after cup elimination to Asier Garitano’s (l) Leganés on Wednesday night. / AFP
  • A look at La Liga

  • Following this week's Copa embarrassment, Real Madrid must win the Champions League or it's all over for Zinedine Zidane

Springtime in Paris and St Valentine's Day evoke romantic images... unless you are Zinedine Zidane.

Whether he continues as the manager of Real Madrid will boil down to two dates with the Parisians and even if they go well it's only a stay of execution.

La Liga was blown a long time ago, his team suffered the indignity of losing to a tiny team known as the 'cucumber growers' in the Spanish Cup, so his future aspirations revolve solely in retaining the Champions League.

If we follow the cliché that every game is a cup final then Zizou would be OK - he's won every final he's managed! If he masterminds the winning of the elite European prize then he's up there as possibly the greatest coach of all time. It's all or nothing!

Nobody had retained the Champions League until Real Madrid last season. No club has ever dreamed of winning it three seasons in a row; if he pulled that off then the sacrifice of everything else would be worthwhile.

There is an absolute clarity to Zidane's thinking now. He has to mastermind success against a team who have taken on the 'Galáctico' mantle from Real. It's a Game of Thrones (how about that for an idea for TV title).

There are similarities to his fellow countryman Arsene Wenger. Immense respect for the dignified manner of management, appreciation of all that has been achieved but a frustration at perceived stubbornness. The Arsenal manager justifies his job by reaching a cup final seasonally when the chips are down and now Zidane must follow the example.

He certainly doesn't want to delve into history for inspiration. Jupp Heynckes delivered the club's first European Cup in over three decades but was dispatched soon after. Vicente Del Bosque won everything but was dismissed a day after masterminding the winning of the Spanish league. His face apparently didn't fit the image the president was trying to cultivate.

Zidane has a major advantage over his predecessors; he has the stature and aura the president desires and unlike, say Jose Mourinho, he's relatively low maintenance. There is no obvious replacement, Real Madrid have exhausted most of the desirable options.

So Zinedine, get the act together. Patch up Ronaldo, tell him he's the greatest there is and has ever been. Enrol Sergio Ramos on a fast-track anger management course and keep doing what you are doing with Gareth Bale.

Win the Champions League and you are untouchable. Even Pep Guardiola couldn't consider a hattrick of European titles. Lose to Paris Saint-Germain and you will be filling your time polishing your many medals.