x

Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari refuses comparisons with 'legend' Zinedine Zidane

Current Madrid manager treads similar path to Frenchman, who also took charge of the senior side following a spell with Castilla

Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari has refused to accept comparisons with "legend" Zinedine Zidane having tread a similar path to the Frenchman.

Solari was appointed Madrid manager on a full-time basis earlier this month after stepping up from Castilla - the club's reserve team - and leading the side to four successive wins in all competitions.

The Spaniard took on the role initially on an interim basis after predecessor Julen Lopetegui was sacked after a 5-1 defeat to rivals Barcelona, just four months after his appointment.

____________

Read more:

Enigmatic Real Betis adding some healthy unpredictability to La Liga

Santiago Solari backs Gareth Bale to find his form for Real Madrid

Real Madrid's 18 managers in 20 years as search begins for No 19 - in pictures

____________

Zidane had also coached Castilla and, like Solari, took over the first team after representing Madrid as a player. But Solari insists the comparisons end there with the Frenchman, who led Madrid to three consecutive Uefa Champions League titles.

"Zidane is absolutely incomparable with anyone, he is a legend of this club," Solari said on Friday. "He was a fantastic footballer, with an exquisite game, which I was lucky to see first-hand, when we played and fought together.

"As a coach, I don't know the statistics, but he's probably the most successful in the history of Real Madrid. I admire him as a man too and a human being. For me it is not necessary to compare him with anyone, only to admire his greatness."

Solari was expected to make way for a more experienced manager, but four wins out of four, and 15 goals scored, convinced club president Florentino Perez he deserved the job long-term.

A contract until June 2021, rather than the end of the season, represented an additional show of faith in Solari's capabilities.

"I am very grateful and excited, it is an enormous and beautiful responsibility," Solari said. "For me nothing changes with respect to my previous 11 years spent at this club. The important thing is the players, and the commitment I have to working day by day.

"After that, we are all here in life temporarily, and even more so in this position at Real Madrid."

Madrid travel to Eibar in La Liga on Saturday as they look to close a four point gap on leaders Barcelona, who face Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Raphael Varane, Marcelo and Dani Carvajal all trained under Solari on Friday morning, after the three defenders recovered from injury. Mariano Diaz was also with the group at Valdebebas.

Carvajal faces a fight to reclaim his place from Alvaro Odriozola at right-back but Varane and Marcelo are likely to return at Ipurua, with Nacho and Sergio Reguilon both struggling for fitness. Casemiro and Keylor Navas were also missing from Friday's session.