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Serie A
LaLiga SmartBank
Oviedo Oviedo OVI

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Liga Holandesa
Willem II Willem II WII

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FC Emmen FC Emmen EMM

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Heracles Heracles HCL

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Vitesse Vitesse VIT

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Heerenveen Heerenveen HEE

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Twente Twente TWE

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Liga Portuguesa

Solari was astute in bringing Pintus back to Real Madrid

Put it down to the mystery of the game of football. In the blink of an eye, it appears that Real Madrid have rediscovered the energy and drive and imposing invincibility that is always so often associated with the team. Recent games have given credence to the old saying of "Madrid always bounce back". I even hear my colleague Tomas Roncero in the newsroom claiming that ten LaLiga points are not insurmountable and he's even more confident now of claiming a fourth European triumph in a row despite the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo's goals. There is always something in the club's illustrious history that generations of fans can cling to and this time around it's something from the recent past that seems to be the catalyst for change, fitness coach Antonio Pintus.

PINTUS

Negative air

Pintus as I'm sure you are aware was the fitness coach during the Zidane era and was brought into the club from Olympique Lyon and was an immediate success. Players could relate to his methodology and also saw how Pintus became a key "bridge" between the squad and technical staff. When Julen Lopetegui was drafted into the club during the summer, the Basque coach decided to remain faithful with his long time associate Óscar Caro instead of Pintus. As we now know, Lopetegui's tenure was short lived with a lack of goals and decent results contributing to a negative air which descended over the club. Exit Lopetegui and enter Solari who was moved up to first team coach after a spell with Castilla. Real Madrid were in crisis and Solari had never coached at the top level before ....just like Zidane before him.

SOLARI

Spring

Just like Zidane, Solari brough in Antonio Pintus whose methodology was already familiar to many of the first team players. He decided to embark on a mini-pre season not long after arrival being aware that this added intensity may lead to injury (which it has) but it has also paid dividends in results on the pitch. Certain aspects of Madrid's recent positive form can be attributed to Pintus but there is also the squad returning to something known and familiar on the Valdebebas training pitch. At the same time, Solari has been careful to offer playing time to the likes of Odriozola, Reguilón, Llorente, Ceballos and especially Vinicius. The team are looking more solid and seem to be playing now with an added spring in their step. For the first time for some while I can firmly say that this Real Madrid side are looking good.