Real hitting form at the right time


Real Madrid have found the winning formula under new coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro and are hitting peak form at an important stage of the season, according to vice-president Emilio Butragueno.

"The team are playing with great enthusiasm and are getting into the opposition area a lot," Butragueno was quoted as saying on the club's website after the 4-0 home win over Espanyol last night.

"The players are clearly enjoying themselves as are the fans who are leaving the Bernabeu happy. That's what we want to happen."

After a shaky start to the season under Brazilian coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo, Real have rediscovered their form under his successor Lopez Caro.

They chalked up a seventh consecutive win in all competitions against an out-of-sorts Espanyol with special performances coming from David Beckham and two-goal Zinedine Zidane, who are thriving under the new coach.

Ronaldo scored on his return after a month out with a calf strain, new signing Cicinho turned in a fine show at right back and a fit-again Jonathan Woodgate produced an accomplished display at centre half.

"Having Woodgate in defence is a big advantage as he's so powerful in the air," said Butragueno. "We've got Guti and Zidane giving us plenty of control in the centre of midfield and we are making lots of ground on the wings.

"We've got a tough set of fixtures coming up but it's much better to be heading into them with some good results behind us rather than the form we were in a month and a half ago."

Lopez Caro's men play Real Zaragoza in the first leg of a King's Cup semi-final on Wednesday and have league games against struggling Athletic Bilbao and Alaves before meeting Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions League.