Final hurdle to history

Even for a man and a club synonymous with European Cup glory, Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid stand on the brink of history in Saturday's Champions League final against Juventus in Cardiff.

Since the European Cup was rebranded and expanded into the Champions League in 1992, no team has been capable of defending the trophy.

However, just 18 months into his first senior managerial role, Zidane is one match away from joining a stellar cast as just the 20th coach to win the competition twice.

Moreover, a 12th European crown for Madrid would reaffirm their status as self-proclaimed kings of Europe with a third Champions League in four seasons.

"I am the coach which means I am doing something right, but everyone in this squad is doing a phenomenal job," said Zidane after Real withstood an Atletico Madrid onslaught in the semi-finals.

Zidane has had a hand in all of Real's last four trips to the final.

He famously scored one of the greatest ever Champions League final goals to win the game against Bayer Leverkusen back in his playing days in 2002 and was part of Carlo Ancelotti's coaching staff that ended a 12-year wait for Madrid's 10th European Cup in 2014.

Zidane went one step further by joining Ancelotti as one of just seven men to win the competition as both player and coach when Real squeezed out local rivals Atletico on penalties in Milan in last year's final.

Yet, it is Real's run back to European football's showpiece occasion this season which has been his most impressive feat in his first full season in charge.

While Madrid rode the luck of the draw and from the spot last season, Zidane's men have overcome Napoli's flair, the might of Bayern Munich and Atletico's intensity for the right to be in Cardiff.


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