After the recent Champions League semi-final second leg between the two teams from Madrid, we at TFF analyse which manager is the better manager right now: Diego Simeone or Zinedine Zidane?
Simeone – 2x Argentine Primera División (Estudiantes, River Plate), La Liga, Copa Del Rey, Supercopa de España, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Super Cup (Atlético Madrid)
Zidane – UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA World Club Cup (Real Madrid)
Verdict – Clearly, Diego Simeone has the upper-hand in managerial honours won with a particular highlight being the 2013/14 La Liga victory. Yet, despite being in charge for just 16 months, Zidane has won three major honours and looks set to add at least one more trophy this season; Real still fighting for La Liga and Champions League glory. If this honours list were to be revisited in five years time, it wouldn’t be inconceivable to see Zidane having won more major honours than his counterpart, however, for now, Simeone leads the way.
Simeone – Diego Simeone’s playing style is well documented. The majority of Atlético Madrid’s successes have come from having a very rigid and solid defensive unit, based primarily upon work rate and being tactically astute. Their defence, against strong offensive outfits, often soak up a lot of pressure with Diego Godín and Stefan Savic forming a solid partnership this season, conceding a league low of just 25. In attack, the flair and ability of Antoine Griezmann, supported capably by Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, allows Atlético to transition from defence to attack seamlessly and with such speed, defences are often caught out. This playing style can be compared to Simeone’s style as a player and, alongside José Mourinho, Simeone is seen as a true master of setting his teams up to be difficult to beat.
Zidane – Much like Simeone, the way Zidane sets his teams up to play can be compared to his own playing style. Flamboyant and full of attacking prowess, Real Madrid have scored 96 league goals this year, only Barcelona have more in La Liga. Certainly, Cristiano Ronaldo is essential in Real’s successes, but becoming increasingly important are the Real fullback’s, Marcelo particularly impressing in the recent El Clásico match. Real Madrid, since Zidane’s appointment, have looked aesthetically like the best side in Europe and potential back-to-back Champions League trophies highlight how this eccentric style of play works for Zidane and the players he has at his disposal.
Verdict – It is undeniable that Zinedine Zidane’s playing style is easier on the eye, however, in terms of setting a team up to win games, Diego Simeone is the best at that. Simeone’s versatility and ability to win games against the odds, Atlético’s final day victory at the Camp Nou to seal the title in 2014 a particular defensive masterclass, shows that, at this point, Simeone is a better tactician than the Real manager.
Simeone – (Games) Played = 521, Won = 293, Drew = 117, Lost = 111, Win % = 56.23%
Zidane – (Games) Played = 139, Won = 86, Drew = 32, Lost = 21, Win % = 61.87%
Verdict – These statistics favour Zidane hugely and show that throughout his managerial career, albeit a brief one at this time, he gets results. Simeone by no means has a poor record, any manager who wins more than they draw or get beat can be viewed as highly successful, but the stats favour Zidane hugely and if the Frenchman can remain in charge of Real Madrid for the next few seasons, his win percentage looks like only going one way. Zidane therefore has pulled one back against Simeone.
Simeone and Zidane have faced off against each other as managers on six separate occasions. Atlético have won two games, one has been drawn, and the other three have been won by Real Madrid, giving Zinedine Zidane a win percentage of 50%; Simeone has a win percentage of just 33.3%. This statistic, the most direct comparison available, shows arguably that Zidane is the better manager as he has guided Real to more victories against their Madrid counter-parts than Simeone.
TFF WRITER VIEWS
Liam Byrne: “I think Diego Simeone is the better manager because I believe anybody could win things with that Real Madrid side. Zidane has a team of match winners whereas Simeone has reached two UCL Finals with one superstar in his team – Greizmann. In order for Zidane to prove his worth he needs to take a job in a more competitive league and still be successful, or manage a team the size of Athleti/Valencia and get them competing for trophies”
FINAL SCORE – SIMEONE 3 v 2 ZIDANE
It is clear that these managers are very even in their careers and although they may be seen to be at different points in said careers, this battle may rage on for the next few decades or so and it is likely this will be a major head-to-head rivalry to parallel Mourinho v Wenger or Mourinho v Guardiola or Mourinho v Rafa Benítez or Mourinho v Ancelotti…