Gareth Bale, Real Madrid Beat Celta Vigo 2-0 in Zinedine Zidane's Return

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2019

Real Madrid's Spanish midfielder Isco (2L) shoots between Celta Vigo's Dutch defender Wesley Hoedt (L) and Celta Vigo's Danish forward Pione Sisto during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and RC Celta de Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 16, 2019. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)        (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Zinedine Zidane won the first game of his second spell as Real Madrid manager thanks to a 2-0 victory over Celta Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga on Saturday.

Isco and Gareth Bale were recalled to the starting XI and repaid Zidane's faith by netting both goals in the second half to help Los Blancos close the gap on leaders Barcelona to nine points. The Blaugrana will be in action on Sunday when they travel to face Real Betis.

Zidane, who won a hat-trick of UEFA Champions League titles before stepping down in May, got his selection decisions right, proving he can rekindle the magic after the unsuccessful tenures of Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari.

B/R Football @brfootball

Zidane's influence is rubbing off already 👖😎 https://t.co/N2aaHd9ZEg


Navas Deserves Courtois' Job

Zidane got his first big call right when he brought Keylor Navas back into the starting lineup at the expense of £35 million signing Thibaut Courtois.

SPORTbible @sportbible

BREAKING: Thibaut Courtois has been dropped by Zinedine Zidane in his first game in charge of his second spell at Real Madrid. https://t.co/YnmWzmsDUc

Navas justified the decision with a superb save to deny a Maxi Gomez header in the 16th minute.

LaLiga @LaLigaEN

FULL STRETCH from @NavasKeylor! 📛✈️ #RealMadridCelta https://t.co/jkLMOqsEIh

Andy West @andywest01

The first 20 minutes of Zidane's return to Real Madrid pretty much following the pattern of his last season in charge. (ie they're not playing very well and needed a great save from Keylor Navas)

He was also quick off his line early in the second half to stop a Celta breakaway. The visitors had a three-on-three attack in Real's box, but Sofiane Boufal's pass was intercepted by the quick-thinking 'keeper.

It was the kind of no-fuss, telling contribution Navas has been making regularly since arriving from Levante for just £8.5 million in 2014.

Bringing Navas back made sense because he did little to lose his job in the first place. He was between the sticks for all three of Real's Champions League wins during Zidane's first tenure.

Yet despite his achievements, Los Merengues were always trying to upgrade the Costa Rica international, whether it was Manchester United No. 1 David De Gea or eventually now-former Chelsea ace Courtois.

There's no denying Courtois' accomplishments in Spain. He helped Atletico Madrid win the UEFA Europa League, Copa del Rey and La Liga title during a decorated loan spell.

Zidane is right to turn to the goalkeeper he trusts.
Zidane is right to turn to the goalkeeper he trusts.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

This haul was followed by the Belgium international winning the League Cup, FA Cup and two Premier League titles with the Blues. Things haven't gone as well at the Santiago Bernabeu, though.

Courtois hasn't been a liability for Los Blancos, nor has he been commanding enough to earn his team points.

Navas might not have the same presence as the marquee names at his position, but his proven track record of making saves when it counts in the biggest matches is why he deserves to be first choice ahead of Courtois.


What's Next?

Real are next in action at home to bottom-of-the-table Huesca on March 31. Celta Vigo will host Villarreal in the league a day earlier.