Santiago Solari is pitching for more than just three points as Real Madrid continue their revival under the interim coach and head to Celta Vigo aiming for their fourth straight win.
Solari’s time as the European champions’ stop-gap following Julen Lopetegui’s sacking will expire over the international break, and club president Florentino Perez needs to decide whether to take the Argentine on permanently.
Real have bounced back under Solari, with Wednesday’s 5-0 drubbing of Viktoria Plzen a clear sign of life in the struggling giants.
A win at bouncing Balaidos could well be enough to convince Perez the job should be Solari’s, at least until the end of the season when a more established alternative could be available.
“We’re doing fine with him,” striker Karim Benzema said on Wednesday. “I don’t see a coach coming for one or two months, for me Solari has to stay until the end of the season. He’s a great coach. Now we have more confidence and we are going to fight.”
Few could begrudge Solari the opportunity to prove himself after stepping up from Madrid’s B team to take charge.
Madrid has scored 11 and conceded none since Solari’s arrival, against admittedly modest opposition — Melilla from the Spanish third tier, Real Valladolid at home and Plzen.
Luck has also played its part, as Vinicius Junior’s deflected shot prevented what looked set to be a stalemate against Valladolid with seven minutes to play. A draw there and Solari’s tenure might never have got off the ground.
However, it was Solari’s decision to bring on the 18-year-old Vinicius, whose youthful exuberance produced an ambitious strike at the end of a weaving run.
Celta will offer a sterner test this weekend. They are the third highest scorers in the division and in Iago Aspas boast the sort of smart finisher Madrid might have signed in the summer.