Real Madrid interim manager Santiago Solari. (Reuters)

Managers hoping to make their mark and the rumbling of battle drums here in Africa grab the attention.

Santiago Solari’s appointment on an interim basis might well do the trick for Real Madrid. The man who started the move for Zidane’s famous volley for Madrid in the 2002 Champions League final comes on board with a similar task to his ex-teammate and just like Zidane in 2016; he comes from the academy manager role and knows what it is to play for Madrid having done so for 5 years. 
The erstwhile Julen Lopetegui had ill-fortune stacked against him right from the moment he was appointed. Results dried up very early and there were no CR7 goals to provide inspiration.
A serious lack of confidence was inevitable and got laid bare in uncharacteristic errors by Varane and Ramos in recent matches including the Clasico.
Unfortunately, Lopetegui had to go; the players need a new lease of life. It’s in these situations that the players need a new manager who would basically put an arm round their shoulder. It’s why I disagreed with Antonio Conte’s potential appointment in my previous post.  

Antonio Conte (GETTY)
His tactics and favoured 3-4-3/3-5-2 formation might be great for a few; Marcelo at wing-back, Bale and Benzema in a double strike partnership. Although where would the likes of Isco and Asensio fit in? Would their famous midfield 3 become a double-pivot? 
Beyond the tactical setup, I felt even the personality is off the mark as Conte is a fiery manager known for his discipline and hard work mantra, not the sort of treatment Madrid need at the moment. The man ruling himself out of the job was the right move.
Solari should be able to get the squad happy again, just as Zidane did. It might be all these under-performing superstars need. 

He did get his Madrid reign up to a decent start last night with a 4-0 Copa Del Rey win over Melilla and he has a fair early run of fixtures to build his methods upon with Real Valladolid at the Bernabéu up next, followed by a trip to Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League.

Frank Lampard (Reuters)

Frank Lampard was back at Stamford Bridge as an opposition manager for that dream tie with Chelsea in The Carabao cup last night.

He couldn’t get the fairytale win I suggested earlier on here but what a performance from his Derby County side. 

They harried and pressed Chelsea high up the pitch all game in a tireless display. Their midfielders regularly succeeded in disrupting Chelsea’s passing game followed by quick counter attacks up the pitch that definitely rattled the blues’ second-string defence.

Betway Nigeria
The Chelsea Legend received a wonderful reception from the home fans and would have been pleased with his side’s performance (Getty)

It just wasn’t to be on a night that was blighted by comical own goals with Chelsea winning 3-2 after Derby players scored four of the goals on the night. They did reply with their goals each time the hosts scored and missed many more chances to take the game to penalties but everyone would have been impressed by Frank Lampard’s charges. 

They will take confidence from having battled two of The Premier League’s top six away from home in their Carabao cup campaign and it will stand them in good stead for the rest of their season.

Al Ahly’s passionate fans (Getty Images)

It’s time to crown the new kings of African football with Al Ahly of Egypt and Espérance of Tunisia meeting for the first leg of the CAF Champions League final tomorrow. The winners will qualify for the Club World Cup in UAE in December.

Al Ahly host the first leg and about 60,000 fans have been permitted to attend the game at the Borg El Arab stadium as Egyptian fans are banned from entering stadiums since the Port Said stadium disaster in 2012, when 72 Al Ahly fans were killed during clashes with Al Masry fans.

There’s so much riding on this one for Al Ahly, who are record eight-time champions seeking redemption against a side they defeated in the 2012 final after losing last year’s final to Wydad Casablanca.

There’s always a raucous atmosphere in these games- or any away game in Northern Africa- and the Al Ahly fans will be at their intimidating best to try to swing the first leg of the tie in their favour.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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