Zidane’s Real Madrid impact compared to Benitez by ex-Merengues forward

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Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, Julio Baptista has praised Zinedine Zidane on his work since replacing Rafael Benitez.

The French great took over from the former Liverpool coach at the beginning of January [via BBC Sport], and while there have been one or two underwhelming performances—notable a 1-0 home defeat by city rivals Atletico Madrid—the rookie manager has largely impressed.

However, Zizou faces arguably the toughest test of his brief managerial career to date when his Real side travel to the Nou Camp on Saturday to take on league leaders Barcelona.

The Catalan heavyweights currently hold a 10-point lead over their rivals, and are nine points ahead of second-place Atletico.

Speaking to Goal, Baptista has praised Zidane’s impact to date, but noted that it will take time to truly assess whether he’s the right man to restore the Merengues’ lustre.

“He’s just starting [his coaching career] now and picked Real Madrid, which aren’t a small team,” the Orlando City SC powerhouse began.

“Immediately, you noticed a change, but you will have to judge over time,” he continued. “It’s not ideal to assess a manager’s work on results alone, but rather on the team’s play.

“Compared to what I saw under Rafael Benitez, the level of play has improved.”

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However, the former Arsenal and AS Roma man went on to insist that Zidane mustn’t be judged alongside Barcelona, and that it will only be next season that we can truly assess the former playmaker’s impact.

34-year-old Baptista spent three years at Real between 2005 and 2008, during which time he spent several months out on loan with Premier League side Arsenal.

He won the Spanish title in the 2007-08 season with the Bernabeu giants.


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