Cerebral Solari looks to revive Real in La Liga

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail SHINE, November 2, 2018
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Barcelona's Luis Suarez (L) vies with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos (R) and Carlos Henrique Casemiro after a Spanish league match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in Barcelona, Spain, on Oct. 28, 2018. FC Barcelona won 5-1. (Xinhua/Joan Gosa)

After a therapeutic win in the Copa del Rey, the hard work starts for Real Madrid under interim coach Santiago Solari as it looks to revive its faltering La Liga campaign tomorrow at home to in-form Real Valladolid.

Former Real midfielder Solari has been in charge of its reserve team Castilla since 2016 and has temporarily moved across the training ground to the first team after hapless coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked following last Sunday's humiliating 1-5 defeat to Barcelona.

Solari has been tasked with resuscitating the ailing European champion, which is ninth in the table and without a league win since September 22.

He made an encouraging start by easing to a 4-0 win away to third division side Melilla in the Copa on Wednesday.

"I saw a team playing with happiness, intensity and hope, working hard for 90 minutes," Solari said after the win in the Spanish colony on the coast of Morocco.

His side will face a much bigger challenge against Valladolid, though, which is owned by former Real and Brazil striker Ronaldo and is unbeaten in its last six league outings.

Spanish football federation regulations mean that Real president Florentino Perez has until November 12 to find a permanent successor to Lopetegui and it is unclear if he is willing to continue the search after negotiations with former Chelsea and Italy boss Antonio Conte broke down.

Solari, whose father was a well-known footballer and coach in Argentina, was known as one of the more cerebral players in the Real dressing room during the so-called "Galactico" era in the early 2000s. He was once spotted reading German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in the dressing room.

He broke with his intellectual image at his first news conference before the game with Melilla, however, giving a speech more typical of compatriot Diego Simeone by declaring: "We need to go there and play with a pair of balls."

If Solari manages to return Real to winning ways against Valladolid, he will be taking a step in the right direction towards getting the job on a permanent basis.

Defender Nacho Fernandez gave the coach an early seal of approval. "We are working with him as if he was the coach for the whole season," Nacho said. "He has worked at the club for a long time, he has experience, he has won trophies with Real. We don't take these decisions and we'll see how things develop, but he is a great coach."

Elsewhere on Wednesday, holder Barcelona scraped a 1-0 win at third-tier Cultural Leonesa thanks to Clement Lenglet's late header.

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