Excited Solari relishing Champions League coaching bow

Real Madrid’s interim coach, Santiago Solari, says he cannot wait to coach in the Champions League for the first time on Wednesday.

Santiago Solari is thrilled to have the opportunity to coach Real Madrid in the Champions League and hopes to see further improvement from the team in Wednesday’s Group G game against Viktoria Plzen.

Interim coach Solari has overseen wins over Melilla and Real Valladolid, in respective Copa del Rey and LaLiga matches, since taking charge of first-team affairs following the sacking of Julen Lopetegui.

A third successive win will be expected when Madrid face Plzen at the Doosan Arena and Solari – a Champions League winner with Madrid in 2002 – is relishing the challenge.

“It’s always very nice, this competition, which is linked to the history of our club, inseparable,” said a relaxed Solari in a news conference.

“When we hear the Champions League anthem, we all get excited. It’s fantastic to be back in this competition. This is my third game in this role, so I’m very happy that I get a chance [in the Champions League]. I enjoyed it a lot as a player.”

 

Real were far from convincing in their 2-0 victory over Valladolid last time out, but Solari feels they are making gradual progress following a humbling 5-1 defeat to Barcelona in Lopetegui’s final match at the helm.

“When you look for a solution to a problem in football, it’s never just one thing, it’s step by step,” said Solari. “We’ve taken two steps, two games. We had to play well to win them, you don’t win games without doing things well, and they were tough games.

“We did a lot of good things in these two games and we have to do what we did well again, but also improve what we didn’t do well. Every team can always improve.”

Solari and Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez, who spoke before the interim coach, each had words of praise for teenager Vinicius Junior following his game-changing cameo against Valladolid.

“His football reflects his age, he’s got excellent ability for his age. He’s raw and his football shows happiness,” said Solari.

“We’re all excited. Everyone who loves football, every time a player who does different things, we’re excited.

“He will be a complete footballer in the future … but we have to take things slowly. He has a lot of things to learn, of course, he’s 18 years old. But he also knows things that you can’t teach.”

Nacho added: “I think he’s doing well. He needs to be calm and we need to not put too much pressure on him.”

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