Zidane the man to take Madrid forward, says Baptista


Former Real Madrid forward Julio Baptista said Zidane Zidane has earned the right to continue in his role as manager of the European champions.

Madrid missed out on La Liga success in 2015-16 but they made up for their domestic failure by winning the Champions League under Zidane's leadership in May.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning penalty as Madrid defeated Atletico Madrid on penalties in Milan, after Zidane replaced the cautious Rafael Benitez in January.

Given the notoriously trigger-happy hierarchy in Madrid, nothing is ever certain at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Baptista - who helped the Spanish capital club to La Liga glory in 2008 - told Omnisport: "I think he has the confidence of everyone to continue working.

"The players respect him, the fans like him. I think he can be the right person to keep the club going forward."

Zidane - a favourite among the playing squad due to his attacking approach - arrived with Madrid underperforming and languishing in third position, four points adrift of leaders at the time Atletico and two behind Barcelona.

But Zidane's appointment sparked an upturn in results and performances as Madrid rallied to finish just a point adrift of Barca in La Liga, a disappointment somewhat forgotten by the club's 11th European crown, thanks to the Frenchman.

"Madrid obviously ended very well," said 34-year-old Baptista, who now calls Orlando City home in MLS.

"They got rid of Benitez and added Zidane and the players looked good in a short amount of time.

"They played incredible football. Very fast pace. You see with the players, they won the Champions League because of how they reacted to Zidane."