MADRID SPAIN. Real Madrid’s interim coach, Santiago Solari, says the squad are hurting but determined to turn around their dismal start to the season.
Julen Lopetegui was sacked on Monday, after four and a half months in charge, and replaced by the Madrid B team coach Santiago Solari, who faced the media for the first time on Tuesday.
“I have found a group in pain but eager to start and reverse the situation,” Solari said after supervising his first training session. “It is a group of champions and warriors, it is not the easiest situation, but I see they want to turn it around.”
Solari’s initial task is a match against the third-tier minnows Melilla in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last‑32 tie on Wednesday.
Solari said the trip to the tiny Spanish autonomous enclave in North Africa is a chance to get back on track. “The idea is to go to Melilla and show a lot of character. I have great hopes. To work at Madrid is a great opportunity.”
‘Nobody compares to Zizou’
Solari will hope that he can follow in the footsteps of Zinedine Zidane who also stepped up from B team coach after Rafael Benítez was sacked in January 2016. Zidane led Madrid to three consecutive Champions League triumphs but Solari is not encouraging comparisons with the Frenchman.
“We have to leave Zidane in peace, he’s one of the biggest Madrid legends. Zizou cannot be described, we must leave him alone in his greatness.”
“Zinedine Zidane is one of the greatest things we’ve had at the club,” Solari added.
“All of the adjectives you can think of are not enough to describe Zizou. He is very calm, he’s a great coach and nobody can be compared to him.”