Real Sociedad coach Eusebio Sacristan believes Rafael Benitez and Zinedine Zidane both made Real Madrid into a more solid team defensively but insists his side will cause problems.
With Sociedad set to host Madrid on Sunday as Zidane’s side begin their assault on the LaLiga title, Eusebio praised his counterpart, as well as his maligned predecessor.
However, Eusebio does not predict a comfortable 90 minutes for Madrid.
“They are the reigning European champions and a strong side in all departments. For us, it’s always an extra motivation to take on teams of such quality – and we want to get the new season off in the best way possible,” Eusebio said.
“I think that last season, what Benitez brought to the team and with everything that Zidane gave them, they have come on leaps and bounds defensively – they are a far more solid team now than other Madrid sides of recent years, and they are just as ruthless in attacks as they have always been.
“Having said that, some of their players have only recently returned and haven’t had the chance to complete a full pre-season yet…It’s a good time for us to meet them, and we plan to give them a demanding game.”
Irrespective of reported issues in the dressing room under Benitez, Madrid started the season on a similarly lacklustre note last term, failing to break down then newly-promoted Sporting Gijon on the road.
Critically for Sunday’s game, Zidane will be faced with key outs in Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric, and will need the likes of Isco and Alvaro Morata to carry the creative burden.
Meanwhile, Eusebio believes academy graduate Mikel Oyarzabal is happy at Sociedad, after reports Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao are prepared to meet his €40million buyout clause.
“Mikel’s relaxed, focused on his work; he’s happy here and he’s really looking forward to the new season like we all are.
“It’s not as simple as just going to the cash till and pulling out €40m.”