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'Zidane smarter than Benitez over Ronaldo'

Bixente Lizarazu has heaped praise on his compatriot, and believes he leads by example in the Merengue dressing room

Zinedine Zidane has impressed since taking over as Real Madrid manager.
Zinedine Zidane has impressed since taking over as Real Madrid manager.

REAL MADRID COACH Zinedine Zidane has learned from the mistakes of Rafael Benitez in deciding how to handle Cristiano Ronaldo, according to Bixente Lizarazu.

Benitez missed an opportunity to single out Ronaldo as the best player in the world soon after succeeding Carlo Ancelotti at the Santiago Bernabeu in June 2015.

Having made a bad start, the former Valencia and Liverpool boss then reportedly struggled to win the full support of the Portugal captain and was dismissed in January last year.

Benitez’s replacement Zidane appears to have been far shrewder in managing his prized asset, while guiding Madrid to Champions League glory last season.

“I can … see how clever he’s been with Cristiano Ronaldo, unlike Rafael Benitez, who criticised him when he arrived,” Lizarazu told the FIFA website when asked about the impact made by his former France team-mate in the Spanish capital.

That’s not the kind of thing you do with your best player who gets you 50 goals a season.”

Lizarazu has been surprised by the ease with which Zidane gets his point across on the sidelines, having led by example during his glittering playing career.

“I think he’s revealed new talents that he didn’t necessarily have to use when he was a player, or he just had to perform well on the pitch to get his team-mates to up their game,” said the ex-Bayern Munich full-back.

He didn’t need to be very communicative because he communicated so well with his feet.

“From the outside, I find his way of communicating incredible. He’s clear and very much at ease with the media and you can tell he has the support of every player.”

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