Santiago Solari says Real Madrid stars are hurting after difficult start to season

Santiago Solari waves to Real supporters
Image: Santiago Solari waves to Real supporters

Real Madrid's interim coach Santiago Solari says the squad are hurting but determined to turn around their dismal start to the season.

The Argentinian, a former midfielder with the La Liga giants, has stepped in for Julen Lopetegui, who was sacked following Real's 5-1 defeat to Barcelona on Sunday.

He took charge of his first training session as interim Real Madrid coach on Tuesday.

According to Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) rules, Solari's temporary tenure with the Champions League holders can last no more than 14 days, after which the club must decide either to appoint him permanently or find another coach to replace Lopetegui.

"I have found a group in pain but eager to start and reverse the situation," Solari said. "It is a group of champions and warriors, it is not the easiest situation, but I see they want to turn it around."

Santiago Solari with Isco (L) and Gareth Bale (R)
Image: Solari with Isco (L) and Gareth Bale (R) during training

Solari will be on the bench on Wednesday when Real Madrid face third-division club Melilla in the Copa del Rey. They then play Valladolid at home in La Liga on Saturday.

"The idea is to go to Melilla and show a lot of character," said Solari. "I have great hopes. To work at Madrid is a great opportunity."

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Solari had been coaching Real Madrid's "B'' team since 2016, taking over not long after Zinedine Zidane left to coach the first team.

The 42-year-old Solari is following a similar route into management but he is keen to avoid comparisons to Zidane, who led Real to three consecutive Champions League titles before stepping down.

"We have to leave Zidane in peace, he's one of the biggest Madrid legends," he added. "Zizou cannot be described, we must leave him alone in his greatness."

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