Zinedine Zidane: Don’t compare me with Pep Guardiola

New Real Madrid manager plays down talk of divisions within side

Real Madrid sack Rafa Benitez after less than half a season and replace him with France great Zinedine Zidane who steps up from B team coach. Video: Reuters

 

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane does not want to be compared with former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola despite the similarities in their routes to the hot seats at Spain’s two biggest clubs.

Zidane, a former Real player, took over as coach on Monday following the dismissal of Rafa Benitez and, like Guardiola when he became manager at the Nou Camp in 2008, has no top-level experience in the job.

“Guardiola is a fantastic coach and what he is doing is very impressive,” Zidane told a news conference on Tuesday.

“Guardiola is Guardiola. I will do my best. I will not compare myself with anyone. I never did it as a player and I won’t do it now.”

Guardiola, a former Barca midfielder, enjoyed a trophy-laden four years as coach, winning 14 titles including the Champions League twice. He has been at Bayern Munich since 2013 and is expected to take a job in the English Premier League next season.

“You shouldn’t make comparisons with me and Guardiola,” Zidane said. “He has achieved incredible things.”

Benitez was sacked after seven months as coach with Real third in La Liga, four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.

“I have clear targets and I’m going to do everything I can to reach those targets,” Zidane said.

Real, record 10-times European champions, were criticised for their style of play under Benitez and a 4-0 home defeat by arch-rivals Barcelona in November was the low point of the Spaniard’s unhappy reign.

“Good football has always been important at this place and I am going to continue that,” Zidane said.

“It has to be offensive football, balanced and nothing else,” the 43-year-old added.

“The target always is to win the Champions League and I will try to make that possible.”

Zidane, who played for Real for five years and helped France win the 1998 World Cup, played down suggestions of tension within the squad.

“I’ve got good feelings, but a coach is never fully prepared, especially a coach who has never managed at this level before,” he said.

“I feel kind of prepared. I have motivation and hope. All that will help me.”

Around 6,000 fans watched Zidane take first-team training on Tuesday and his first game as manager will be against Deportivo La Coruna at the Bernabeu on Saturday.

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