Champions League: Zidane, Simeone and a coaching revolution
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid managers epitomise a new era of super-coaches at the top of the game
The Champions League final between Real Madrid and their city rivals, Atletico Madrid, is not just a local derby that will decide the kings of Europe. It is a clash between two managers who embody very different philosophies - but share one vital attribute.
Real's Zinedine Zidane is a Galactico in charge of a team of Galacticos, while street-fighter Diego Simeone of Atleti has built a band of brothers in his image.
"In some ways, they represent everything about the clubs they lead," says Spanish paper Marca. "Zidane is the physical embodiment of class, an advocate of beautiful football with a reputation of the highest order."
Simeone, on the other hand, "conducts himself with grit, determination and a competitive streak that means he will often stop at nothing to win, much like his Atletico Madrid side".
The pair were rivals on the pitch in Italy and Spain, where Simeone's Lazio got one over on Zidane's Juventus, beating them to the Serie A crown in 2000. They also clashed as players for the two Madrid clubs in La Liga, "but the real rivalry will start in the dugout", says Marca.
"Real Madrid buy stars, Atletico make and sell them, and it's been that way for a while," says Rik Sharma of Mail Online.
Simeone is the more established coach. His tactical nous is excellent and his team will throttle the life out of opponents. "El Cholo", who always dresses in black on the touchline, is an inspirational figure.
"Never has a group of players put themselves on the line like Atletico stars do for Simeone," says Sharma. "Giving less than 100 per cent is unacceptable. He has instilled that culture at the club. If you're not leaving everything you've got out on the pitch, you're unlikely to spend much time on it again."
Zidane is less intense and, at a club with an untouchable front three of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, has little opportunity to show off his tactical abilities. He is less of a cult hero to the fans, although both men have "the X-factor".
Zizou cannot rival the achievements of Simeone, but he has only been in the job since January and has shown himself to be "ice-cool" under pressure so far. The only blot in his copybook is twice splitting his trousers.
Simeone is the superior coach, but the Real man has the superior squad. But if Los Merengues win, it will be Zidane's triumph, says Miguel Delaney of Eurosport. Only a man of his reputation can get a team of such talents to play well.
The game has become so big, argues Delaney, that superstar players earning millions no longer respect the orders of "technocrat" coaches - with the possible exception of Jose Mourinho. What is needed is a former star who has "been there and done that" and understands the psychology of the players.
"What happened at Real this season is illustrative," adds the journalist. "[Rafa] Benitez just couldn’t get the required response out of the players, with many of them resenting his control. Those same players, however, instantly responded to Zidane. They were no longer looking at someone many of them felt above in terms of achievement; they were looking at someone whose playing career they aspired to match. There was just a gravitas from his time in the game that added to his charisma."
In that respect, Zidane and Simeone are equals on the touchline.