Written by Sayan Chatterjee
Football at it’s purest is an art form – It parallels life in more ways than one. Mere professionalism would make it dull and judging an art form with only glories would not be fair. The ‘Los Galacticos‘ project fulfilled an unspoken dream of most football fans over the world – assembling a team of the world’s biggest superstars, plying their trade for the same badge.
The period was also marked by a team of supernatural footballers’ failure to deliver the expected number of trophies and a drought that would spark controversies and question the nature of the project itself. Amidst the chaos, there were sparks of individual brilliance and resounding moves that would somehow bring out the meaning of watching the sport.
One such move is notably Zinedine Zidane’s immaculate volley against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League final to put matters to bed and win Real Madrid their 9th European trophy.
It’s surprising how people say that sometimes in life, the greatest moments of our lives pass us by but Zinedine Zidane seemingly does the exact opposite. The ball seemed to have dropped from heaven and the Frenchman with all his poise struck it with such venom that Hans-Jörg Butt’s dive in the Bayer Leverkusen goal was rendered useless.
What makes the former Juventus maestro’s strike one of the greatest in the competition is the interplay itself as Roberto Carlos’s looped overhead assist was a thing of beauty
Carlos and Zidane exchanged such moments of magic between them on a host of occasions and took the Los Blancos’ faithful’s breath away. The partnership between the pair was not one that made sense on paper, however, whenever Zidane drifted left or came down to pick the ball up and drift forward with ease, the former French skipper would wreak havoc.
Sid Lowe once famously said that he was football’s answer to Bolshoi Ballet, paying tribute to his elegance and poise on the ball. Zidane would slow time down when he received the ball calmly, sweep past tackles like a dancer and carry the ball forward with his motion. Many failed to understand or predict his motion but Carlos knew when and how to find him.
The duo had flair for days and they would indulge in acts of showmanship, that in actuality can simply be classified as toying with the opposition. One such instance was when they won 0-2 at Camp Nou against arch-rivals, Barcelona. Carlos attempted to break away from the Barca press when he gave a short pass to Zidane, who stopped the ball for a moment, hesitated and played a one-two which left the opposition clueless. It was a case of men against boys, an indicator of the genius on display from the pair.
Roberto Carlos, with his power and might down the flanks, provided a perfect foil to Zidane’s grace and poise in the middle. While the pair’s brilliance was habitual, it was still enthralling for the masses to witness the Meringues duo running rings around high calibre sides.
When in sync, no barrier was unbreakable for them and they looked unstoppable. A testament to their dominance is the fact that their synchronization was the primary threat in a side that had an embarrassment of exceptionally gifted superstars at their disposal. Admittedly, both of them had their flaws, however little they might be. But it sure deemed insignificant when they were at their very best.
Los Blancos got Marcelo after Roberto Carlos moved out who is brilliant in his own right but players like the mythical Zidane came only once in a lifetime and the connection between them was surely a match made in heaven.
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