Zidane runs the risk of ruining his legacy
Zinedine Zidane will be hard-pressed to replicate his success of yore. - AFP file
Dubai - The Real Madrid manager embarks on his second era with the Los Blancos
The second most popular football League after the English Premiership - the Spanish La Liga - swings into action over the weekend with 26-time champions FC Barcelona stepping on the lush green turf for their title defence against Athletic Bilbao.
And while all eyes will be trained on Antoine Griezmann as the Frenchman runs out in a competitive fixture in the La Liga in Barca's colours, an equal number will be shadowing another Frenchman - Zinedine Zidane.
The former 'Galactico' embarks on his second era as Real Madrid manager and while his first stint was a trophy-laden one, circumstances are quite different this time.
Zidane masterminded a period which saw the Los Blancos rack up an astonishing nine titles. It was as though everything Zidane touched turned into gold as Real Madrid won the trophy with the 'big ears' - the Champions League thrice, two Super Cups, two Fifa Club World Cups, one La Liga and one Supercopa.
But that now seems a distant memory.
Zidane now stands on a treacherous road and with a squad in transition. The 47-year-old was tempted out of his sabbatical by club president Florentino Perez in March, with the club in crisis.
The trigger-happy Perez wasted no time in showing Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari the door after Real suffered one of their worst seasons in Spain as well as Europe.
It was an almost barren season as the holders were booted out of the Champions League by Ajax, faltered in the race for La Liga, a trophy they last won two seasons ago. The only consolation, if any, was the Fifa Club World Cup title they won in Abu Dhabi.
Zidane was left to see out the season with no more damage and with an eye on next season. And considering the situation, he did a decent job of it, winning five out of the remaining 11 games.
A new season brings with it hope but Real Madrid find themselves in a bit of disarray at the moment, and it has got to do with their transfer activity this summer.
Once famous for assembling a squad of 'Galacticos,' there has been a bit of a lull in the Spanish capital. True, they finally managed to capture Eden Hazard following admiring glances over a period of time but this Real Madrid squad somehow lack the aura of those Cristiano Ronaldo days.
Zidane has cut a frustrating figure because they haven't been able to land countryman Paul Pogba from Manchester United. It could yet happen with the Spanish transfer window running until September 2. Real Madrid are also said to be wrangling with rivals Barcelona for Neymar.
With all this in the background, Zidane's patience is running thin. His steely exterior has been tested with reports surfacing that he is this close to putting in his papers.
Add to that, his handling of Welshman Gareth Bale has hogged the limelight and is proving to be a distraction. It has been a mountain of problems with pre-season being anything but rosy.
Real Madrid have two wins, two draws and three defeats to show from seven matches with losses to Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Champions League runners-up Tottenham. Their two victories were against Fenerbahce and Red Bull Salzburg and the stalemates came against Arsenal and Roma.
In such a situation, Zidane will be hard-pressed to replicate his success of yore. Sequels are a double-edged sword - it could work or it cannot.
But La Madridistas, the Madrid faithful, will be hoping it will.