Zinedine Zidane has hardly counted on Real Madrid‘s academy products across his two spells as Los Blancos coach, that was until the plague of injuries and departures of Martin Odegaard and Luka Jovic on loan in January have forced him to use some youngsters in the last few games.
In Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Osasuna, Zidane started Real Madrid Castilla midfielder Antonio Blanco and also sent on Miguel Gutierrez and Sergio Arribas in the second half.
Having previously given the nod to other youngsters such as Victor Chust, Hugo Duro and Marvin Park the question raised is whether last season’s UEFA Youth League winners could help the seniors to the double this season.
The emergence onto the scene of the Real Madrid academy products brings back memories of the famous La Quinta del Buitre, five homegrown Los Blancos players who were the backbone of a team that dominated football in Spain in the 1980s.
Its first two members to debut were Sanchis and Martin Vazquez in 1983 but they couldn’t lead Real Madrid to either European or domestic glory.
The following season, Barcelona won LaLiga Santander but the youngsters led Real Madrid all the way to the UEFA Cup final against Videoton, whom Amancio Amaro’s men beat to lift the trophy.
Another important player who made it through the ranks to Real Madrid‘s first team was Raul Gonzalez who debuted in October 1994 and inspired Los Blancos to the LaLiga title under Jorge Valdano, but failed to do so in Europe.
Next came Iker Casillas, who made his LaLiga Santander debut in September 1999. That season Real Madrid finished fifth in LaLiga but won their eighth Champions League trophy against Valencia.
Later there was the famous ‘Zidanes and Pavones’ period where homegrown players helped through the season, but they didn’t have a key role in crucial games.
Another generation that made their way to the first team was that of Alvaro Morata, but their integration was slow and were taken under the wings of elite players such as Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The latest generation to emerge is that of Blanco, Arribas and Miguel Gutierrez who were in Raul’s plans in Real Madrid Castilla’s pursuit of promotion to LaLiga Smartbank.
All three are now at Zidane‘s disposal for this demanding last stretch of the season.