Real Madrid haven’t come close to matching the superb style that their rivals Barcelona have produced in recent years, but one of their former players doesn’t think it will be long before Los Blancos are regarded as the finest team to watch in Spain.
Former defender Cicinho, who played in Spain’s capital for two seasons, thinks Barcelona will play the “most beautiful football” in La Liga under his ex-teammate and current Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane.
Many regard Barcelona’s present team - led by Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar - as better than that assembled in 2010-11 by Pep Guardiola, who unearthed a brand of tiki-taka football that blew so many teams away.
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But Cicinho reckons Zidane can create a style that trumps Luis Enrique’s swarming system.
Speaking to Goal, the 35-year-old said: “Zidane is the perfect coach for Real Madrid. No matter if they concede two or three goals they will probably score more.
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“With Zidane, Real Madrid will play better. They will play the most beautiful football in Spain, like Barca do it now.
“Zidane is a calm and professional guy. He will tell his players what the coach wants from them on the pitch.”
Barca's unselfish trio
There are those who doubt Madrid’s attacking trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema will ever be as productive as Barcelona’s MSN strike force.
Unlike BBC, Messi, Suarez and Neymar delight in each other’s success, as evidenced by their cheeky pass-penalty against Celta Vigo last Sunday.
Messi passed up the chance to score his 300th league goal, instead allowing Suarez to complete his hat-trick. The pass was actually meant to go to Neymar but instead of throwing a strop, the Brazilian joined in with the former Liverpool man’s celebrations.
Ronaldo’s selfish attitude will probably prove the biggest hurdle for Zidane in his attempt to produce an appealing brand of football. Roberto Carlos said Madrid would have been heavily criticised if they had tried Barcelona’s penalty trick, but in all likelihood it’s hard to imagine the idea even being discussed in Madrid’s locker room.
Ronaldo is the team’s penalty taker. Would he give up the chance to score from 12 yards? No.
Meanwhile, Bale’s constant injuries problems have prevented the BBC relationship from really taking off. According to Sky Sports, the Welshman has played just 1,164 minutes out of a possible 2,160 in the league this season and is currently nursing a calf problem.
Cicinho was speaking ahead of the Champions League tie between Madrid and Roma on Wednesday evening. The defender signed for the Italian club following his stint in Spain’s capital and insisted Roma’s four-game winning streak gives them a chance to progress.
"Roma and Real Madrid are two great sides and this will be a very evenly contested game,” Cicinho said. “It will be nice to watch for all football fans.
"Real Madrid are the favourites though. They have a better team and Roma are going through a difficult time, but it is true that they're playing well again recently. Their coach will talk to them to ensure they are defensively strong at all times."