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23 February 2024

'Zizou effect' at Real has Bernabeu buzzing

By Reuters

Zinedine Zidane's triumphant start as Real Madrid coach set the Bernabeu buzzing on Saturday and the 10-times European champions are hoping the 'Zizou effect' can return the world's richest club to winning ways.

The former Real and France midfielder, appointed after the unpopular Rafa Benitez was sacked on Monday, watched his new charges crush Deportivo La Coruna 5-0 in La Liga with Gareth Bale scoring a hat-trick and Karim Benzema adding a double.

Known as 'Zizou' and a hero to the fans, Zidane was given a huge ovation when he walked out at the giant arena before kickoff and his old number five shirt, put back on sale this week, was flying off the shelves at the club shop.

While Deportivo are hardly the strongest opponents Real will face this season, there appears to be solid optimism the 43-year-old from Marseille can help the club triumph again after failing to secure any of the three main titles under Carlo Ancelotti in 2014-15.

Saturday's win in their 19th league match lifted Real within a point of second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Spanish and European champions Barcelona are a point clear at the top with a game in hand on Zidane's team.

"He is a man the fans are extremely fond of, a world soccer legend," former Real and Spain striker Emilio Butragueno told Spanish television.

"For us he is a very emblematic figure and the excitement among the fans was palpable, it was fantastic," added the club director.

"This is the path to follow and we hope Zidane can play a fundamental role over the coming months."

Dressed in a tight-fitting black suit, with a crisp white shirt and a thin black tie, the shaven-headed Frenchman cut an elegant figure on the touchline, in contrast to the plump, studious-looking Benitez.

At his post-match news conference, Zidane said he had not been nervous about making his top-flight coaching debut and spoke of the need for improvement "across the board".

"The goal was to bring the ball out from the back and switch wings quickly," he explained.

"The key is the team's attitude. Beyond that we have to improve in many areas and we will do that.

"When you win a match the coach can only be happy and I am happy. That's it," said Zidane.

Real's next outing is a La Liga game at home to Sporting Gijon next weekend.