The two coaches have met several times as coaches in the Madrid derby, while their head-to-head rivalry goes back to their playing days.
Zinedine Zidane and Diego Simeone will take their places in the Santiago Bernabeu dugouts for the Madrid derby on February 1st with a long history of rich and competitive rivalry.
The French and Argentine icons have met in the Madrid derby on 11 occasions, 10 times as coaches and once as players. Beyond the Spanish capital, they also faced off against each other a further eight times during their playing days in Italy where Zidane played for Juventus and Simeone represented Inter Milan and Lazio.
⚽️ Their one Madrid derby meeting on the pitch
These two players’ high-profile careers in the Spanish capital only just overlapped, providing only one direct derby match-up, in December 2003. Neither will forget the game in a hurry; it was the night that the great Ronaldo Nazario scored the fastest goal in the fixture’s history (16 seconds) to send Real Madrid on their way to a 2-0 win.
Simeone played at centre back that night instead of his usual midfield role. Zidane set up in the middle of the park and played a part in the build-up to the goal, which neither Simeone nor his current coaching assistant German ‘El Mono’ Burgos, Atleti’s goalkeeper that day, could do anything about.
That encounter turned out to be the final meeting between Zidane and Simeone as players and tilted the balance in favour of the Frenchman. Their final head-to-head record as players, taking into account their appearances in Serie A, ended with four wins for Zidane, two draws and three wins for Simeone.
👔 The rivalry moves to the dugout
That 2003 derby came at a time when Real Madrid completely dominated the fixture. Real Madrid went from 1999 to 2013 without losing to their neighbours but Simeone was the man to turn the tide, leading his side to victory in the 2013 Copa del Rey final. From that day on the initiative looked to be in Atleti’s hands, and Zidane actually lost his first derby as Real Madrid coach: a 1-0 reverse at the Bernabeu in 2015/16.
Today Zidane has the edge with four victories, four draws and two defeats in his head to head with Simeone. That second defeat, though, didn’t really feel like a loss for Zidane as it came in the second leg of their 2016/17 Champions League semi-final; Real Madrid advanced to the final on aggregate anyway.
The European Cup final between these two tacticians also fell in Zidane’s favour, as Real Madrid won the 2015/16 Champions League final in Milan against their city rivals on penalties. So too did the most recent derby, with Los Blancos running out winners in the Spanish Super Cup final, again on penalties after the sides couldn’t be separated over 120 minutes.
Interestingly, the four draws between these coaches have all come the league. There have been six LaLiga Santander meetings between the coaches, with the first being an Atletico win, the second going to Real Madrid win and the last four finishing with the spoils being shared.
It promises to be another tight affair when these two giants meet again on February 1st, the 12th derby meeting between these two LaLiga icons.
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