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Sources: Barca to cut scouting department in half


Zidane's Real Madrid 'similar' to Guardiola's Barcelona - Del Bosque

Vicente del Bosque says it is right to compare Zinedine Zidane's all-conquering Real Madrid side to the Barcelona team managed by Pep Guardiola between 2008 and 2012.

Zidane's team outclassed Manchester United 2-1 to win Tuesday's UEFA Supercup in Skopje, meaning Madrid have won six trophies in the Frenchman's 20 months in charge, including back-to-back Champions Leagues and the 2015-16 La Liga title.

Madrid head into Sunday's Spanish Super Cup first leg at Barcelona with talk already around the Bernabeu of winning a "sextete" (six trophies) this season, which would match the historic achievement of Guardiola's Barca in 2009.

Del Bosque, who won the World Cup and European Championship with Spain and two Champions Leagues with Madrid, told the El Larguero radio show that it was now time to start comparing Zidane's achievements to those of Guardiola at the Camp Nou, and pointed out that both teams were based around controlling the game in midfield.

"With Pep, Barca had an extraordinary period, with fantastic results," Del Bosque said. "But it is similar now. There are differences, as there are no two coaches the same, but they both get the most out of their players.

"Real Madrid have very good midfielders, people who work hard and have a lot of quality. Around them they have a very good team, in defence and attack. The facts show they are the best team in Europe. Madrid are playing very good football, and winning trophies. Since Zizou took over they are on an impressive path."

On a similar line, Thursday's Marca front cover was a homage to Madrid's midfield four -- Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Isco -- calling them "the fantastic four." This marks a change in emphasis among many Blancos fans and pundits, with the team's "BBC" front line of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo now making less headlines.

Isco alone was on the cover of AS on Thursday morning, amid concerns about the 25-year-old's contract ending next summer. While Barcelona have regularly been linked with a move in recent months, when speaking after being named man of the match against United in Skopje he gave no indication he was thinking of leaving Madrid, and reports close to the Bernabeu say a new deal could be announced this week.

Meanwhile, Madrid president Florentino Perez has told Fox Deportes that his attacking trio remain key to his management of the club's success both on and off the pitch.

"With [Luis] Figo, Ronaldo, [Zinedine] Zidane, [Michael] Owen we created this media phenomenon called "Los Galacticos" and reached this level in the world," Perez said. "We have tried to maintain that with the new great players -- like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, great players who help you to grow both on and off the pitch.

"It is the same as with Alfredo Di Stefano in the past, when Santiago Bernabeu was president, and I have tried to copy that. The great players bring the big sponsors and that is what I have been doing since 2000. Now I think we are in the place in the world that we deserve."

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan


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