Centurion Zinedine Zidane stacks up favorably with Real Madrid legends
Zinedine Zidane's 100th game as Real Madrid coach brought a nervy 2-1 La Liga win at Getafe on Saturday afternoon, with the team stumbling at times but coming up trumps when it was most important -- actions quite representative of the former Galactico's time in charge.
Zidane's side have won an unprecedented seven trophies in the 649 days since he replaced Rafa Benitez on the bench -- the 2016 and 2017 Champions Leagues, 2016-17 La Liga title, 2016 and 2017 European Super Cups, 2016 World Club Cup and 2017 Spanish Supercopa.
The Frenchman's first 100 games have brought 75 wins, 17 draws and eight defeats. There have been 273 goals scored and 101 conceded. Along the way, Madrid have also set new club records for games unbeaten (40 between April 2016 and January 2017), consecutive away wins (13 and counting since last February) and consecutive games scoring at least once (73 between Manchester City in April 2016 and Real Betis at the Bernabeu last month).
"Everything has been good but the best was winning La Liga, as it's the day-to-day work and the most important," Zidane said on Friday about reaching 100.
"The worst is when you lose because something hasn't been done well. I enjoy every moment here. I'm just as excited now as at the beginning. I've learned from the experience, even if everything has gone very fast."
The top scorer during Zidane's time in charge has been, not surprisingly, Cristiano Ronaldo. The first game on Jan 9, 2016, was a 5-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna, with Gareth Bale scoring a hat trick, and Karim Benzema a brace. Ronaldo didn't score that day, but his winner on Saturday was number 74 in his last 78 club games. Benzema is the next highest scorer with 33, then Bale with 22, although it is striking that the "BBC" have started just 25 of the 100 games together.
All very impressive, although in percentage of games won and goals scored, Zidane lags behind his two predecessors in the job: Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho.
Ancelotti's first 100 games as Madrid coach brought 78 wins (three more than Zidane) 10 draws and 12 defeats (four more than Zidane). His side scored 272 goals and conceded 80 in that time, while winning four trophies -- 2014 Champions League, 2014 Copa del Rey, 2014 European Super Ccup and 2014 World Club Cup.
Ancelotti's 100th game was a 2-0 win at Elche on Feb. 21, 2015, which put Madrid four points clear of Barcelona at the top of the table. "The first 100 have gone well," the Italian said that evening. "And I hope the next 100 do too."
Three months later he was fired by club president Florentino Perez.
Mourinho got 77 wins, 13 draws and 10 defeats in his first 100 games as Blancos boss, with 274 goals scored and just 71 conceded. Again, this record compares more than favourably with Zidane if you go game-by-game. But the Portuguese's side had won just one trophy to that point, the 2011 Copa del Rey.
"I'd like to transform these numbers into trophies, which is what is remembered," Mourinho said at his pre-100th game news conference in March 2012.
The Portuguese brought up the ton with a 3-2 comeback win at Real Betis, with Ronaldo hitting a late winner in a thrilling game which saw Betis claim an injury-time penalty for a Sergio Ramos handball on the line. Those three points kept the team on course to win that season's La Liga title -- a second trophy for the Special One in Spain.
Mourinho's first season at Madrid coincided with the peak of Pep Guardiola's Barcelona. Even Pep only claimed six trophies -- not seven like Zidane -- during his first 100 games. However, the calendar did not favour the Catalan in this comparison, as taking over in midseason has helped Zidane to claim silverware quicker. Guardiola's 121st game saw him clinch number seven with the 09-10 La Liga title.
Back in history, legendary Blancos boss Miguel Munoz's team won 70 of his first 100 games in charge. Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas & Co. have the club record for most goals scored to that point, rattling in 283, while conceding 88. Munoz is the coach with most total trophy wins with Madrid -- 14 -- but he averaged just one trophy a season in an era in which there were fewer Super Cups on offer.
The Madrid coach who reached 100 games with the worst record is, perhaps surprisingly, Vicente Del Bosque, whose side won just 53, drew 23, and lost 24. Like Zidane, Del Bosque took over midseason and won the Champions League a few months later (in May 2000). His total of 245 games is by far the most of any of the club's modern era managers, and the former Madrid midfielder added six more before his reign was memorably ended by Perez the day after the 2001-02 La Liga title was secured.
Perfectionist Perez wrote in Marca this week that the current coach was doing well so far.
"Zidane is pure talent but he is also about sacrifice, persistence in the search for perfection, and insatiable hunger for victories and trophies," the club chief said.
"But as Zidane himself knows, this club always aspires to more. He knows the history and destiny of Real Madrid."
There are few complaints so far around the Bernabeu as Zidane has reached the 100-game mark, but given their inconsistent start to the current campaign, he knows he shouldn't get too comfortable.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan