Each and everyone knows who Fabio Capello is. The legendary manager has so many achievements to relish in his illustrious career. The Italian was a Spanish champion with Los Blancos in his own spell on the bench in both 1997 and 2007, and now he watches on as a supporter.
Capello sat down for a chat with Marca during his time in Spain.
Here are the excerpts:
How are you doing after the lockdown?
I’m here in Marbella with my wife, Laura, now, but it was terrible. We can’t let our guard down now, we have to keep wearing masks and keeping the recommended distance [from other people].
I’ve lost a few friends, and I want to take advantage of speaking to MARCA to send a very big hug to Lorenzo Sanz’s family. He was a great president and a great friend.
It was an atypical season, but Real Madrid won the title.
Deservedly so. They played the best football in the division, scored goals and didn’t concede.
Madrid have ended Barcelona’s monopoly and have taken advantage of their slump. But we have to be clear – Madrid won the title on their own merits, not because of others’ mistakes.
Karim Benzema has had a great season.
[He’s been] sensational. He’s become a benchmark for Madrid and he’s undoubtedly the best.
He has taken on a responsibility that he didn’t have when he played with Cristiano Ronaldo, he has a nose for goal and he’s shown it. He scored decisive goals and I think it’s the best season since he signed.
What about Thibaut Courtois?
I’m very happy for him. He’s always been a great goalkeeper but he had me a little confused last season, he lacked consistency.
This year he’s made a lot of big saves and, after a long time, Madrid have another Zamora.
And Sergio Ramos… what about him?
He won LaLiga [Santander] with me and he’s already a legend at the club. He’s a real captain and leader both on and off the pitch.
He has a lot of quality and is always decisive for the team. He has a great personality too.
Another player you signed was Marcelo.
I brought him in as a kid and he’s given the club a lot of good performances.
He’s a big player and he can play for two or three more years. He’s among the best I’ve ever seen in his position.
Have you been disappointed by Eden Hazard?
Of course. He hasn’t been the player he was at Chelsea and he was injured for a long time, he hasn’t adapted. I’ve always thought of him as a great player but the Madrid shirt weighs heavily and Hazard has sunk this year. It’s clear that he’ll be better next season.
Then there are the youngsters – Vinicius Junior, Fede Valverde, and others…
I like all of them. They have quality but need time. It’s like when I signed [Fernando] Gago, [Gonzalo] Higuain and Marcelo.
The president told me they had to play and I told him they needed time. Be careful with them, you have to be slow.
Zinedine Zidane cannot stop winning titles.
Great! I send him my warmest congratulations because he’s done very well.
Winning a league title is difficult and he’s done it. Ten wins and a draw is very impressive.
What about Barcelona?
It’s a very strange situation. I can’t understand how they collapsed. Ernesto Valverde’s departure was surprising and then [Quique] Setien arrived with a very specific philosophy and the team fell apart.
They have good players, but a lot of them are old. They’re facing a complicated short and medium-term future.
But Lionel Messi is still Lionel Messi.
He’s a genius. The best ever in my opinion. Barcelona are Messi. We’ll see what happens when he retires. By the way, I wanted him at Juventus when he was 17.
And how is Cristiano doing at Juventus?
Very well and he’s close to being a champion again. He seems happy and he’s scoring goals.
In Italy, Spain, and in France there’s a lot of criticism for VAR.
I like it, but for offsides and ghost goals. The handball situation is a mess that nobody understands so the conclusion is VAR must be eradicated.
Who are your favourites for the Champions League?
I said it in September – Manchester City.
But watch out for Bayern Munich.
What about Real Madrid?
It’s their competition and Madrid are Madrid. They have a complicated task, having to score two goals without conceding against City and Ramos is missing. It’s difficult, but if anyone can do it it’s them. Anything can happen.
What do you have to say about Atletico Madrid?
Diego Simeone is great. Eliminating Liverpool was huge. They always step up.