When the season began, I was excited for Lopetegui to step in. I knew he had some big shoes to fill as coach, but felt pretty good about it after seeing how well the Spanish National team had performed. Things started out well, but soon fell apart. The early wins were not convincing and the losses were dumbfounding. And so, it was time for a change.
Enter Santiago Solari. The former midfielder turned Castilla coach stepped in to take over. With about two weeks and four games until a replacement was found or he was signed to a full contract, he stepped and got it done. The team seemed to wake up and remember what it was capable of on the pitch. They’ve now scored fifteen goals and conceded twice in the past four games.
I must confess that instead of my usual unabashed optimism, I am finding myself cautiously optimistic. Four games isn’t enough to really understand what a coach can do with the talent given to him. After all, with the exception of the Super Cup final, Real won the first three games of their La Liga season under Lopetegui by two-three goals each game — decent margins really. There’s no reason that this win streak will continue in this manner. As we’ve mentioned in other articles here, Solari’s stint with Castilla wasn’t an impressive one in the least.
However, I think there is a definite difference in the team now. These first four wins under Solari were far more convincing wins than what we saw under Lopetegui. Los Blancos just looked lost so many times at the start of the season, not like they’d forgotten how to play the game, but like they’d forgotten how to communicate with one another. This doesn’t look like the case any more. They’re finally all speaking the same language.
Whether this current streak is due to them finally coming together better as a team or a fresh wind in their sails, courtesy of Solari, remains to be seen.