Zidane has Italianised Madrid – Ferrara

The former Napoli and Juventus defender says his old teammate has embraced the Italian defensive philosophy to make Real Madrid successful again

Real Madrid's success under Zinedine Zidane has come about because the Frenchman has "Italianised" the Spanish giants since replacing Rafael Benitez, according former Juventus team-mate Ciro Ferrara.

During their playing careers Ferrara and Zidane won two Scudetti titles, the Supercoppa Italiana and UEFA Super Cup at Juventus, before both going into management.

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In Zidane's 13 months at Madrid they have become champions of Europe for the 11th time and posted a club-record 16 successive victories in La Liga, while also equalling Barcelona's record of 39 league games without defeat.

Ferrara, who currently coaches China League One side Wuhan Zall, says part of the reason for Madrid's impressive run under the Frenchman comes from his experiences in Serie A and the tactics he learned.

"My friend Zidane has already Italianised [Real Madrid] by finding the right balance for the defence," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Madrid face Ferrara's former club Napoli in the Champions League next week in the first leg of their last-16 clash, and the 50-year-old says Zidane's side will embrace their Italian influence even more to progress.

"At the Bernabeu Madrid will play their game, no doubt, but if they leave too many gaps in Naples then it will be fun," he added.

"I am convinced that Zizou will be even more Italian in this challenge."

Ending Madrid's hopes of successive European crowns will not be easy for Napoli, but Ferrara believes they can do it and expects two players to be key to their chances. 

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"I believe two men will be critical to Napoli," he said. "[Jose] Callejon and [Raul] Albiol.

"Both, having played for Real, can make it clear to their team-mates what they need to do to overcome tensions and fears of a big game."