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Football Reporting

Bundesliga

Real Madrid’s Bellingham draws comparisons with legend Zidane



Carlo Ancelotti compared Jude Bellingham favorably with Zinedine Zidane after the midfielder’s man-of-the-match performance in Real Madrid’s 4-2 Champions League win over Napoli on Wednesday.

Bellingham’s header put Madrid 2-1 up in the Group C game at the Santiago Bernabeu, after Giovanni Simeone put Napoli ahead and Rodrygo levelled for the hosts.

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Napoli’s Frank Zambo Anguissa made it 2-2 after half-time and youngster Nico Paz restored Madrid’s lead, before Bellingham provided an assist for Joselu to secure the win in added time.

“It’s difficult to compare two different generations,” Ancelotti said in his post-match news conference when asked about comparisons with Zidane, who was watching the game at the Bernabeu. “What I see is [Bellingham’s] ability to get into the box. Zidane didn’t have that. And the individual quality which Zidane had, Bellingham doesn’t have.

“But that’s modern football. Modern football requires physical players like Bellingham, who can cover a lot of the pitch quickly.”

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The England international has now scored 15 goals in 16 games for Real Madrid, finding the net in every Champions League appearance for the club so far.

“It looked like he was very tired in the middle of the second half,” Ancelotti said. “He took 10 minutes to recover and then in the last 15 minutes he made the difference to help us win. It’s surprising. I don’t think anybody could have imagined his adaptation to this style of football, to this club.

“He surprises every day, in every game. Not just us, he’s surprising everybody. [Bellingham] is a gift for football. His coach and his teammates are delighted with him, and the fans are delighted with him, but everybody is delighted to see a player with this potential and this positive image.”

After Joselu scored in the 94th minute — having earlier missed several chances — Bellingham encouraged his teammate to take the applause of the Bernabeu crowd.

“Bellingham is a young, serious professional,” Ancelotti said. “He’s adapted well to the dressing room. He has to improve his Spanish. As I’ve said many times, nobody is perfect!”

In-form Madrid striker Rodrygo said: “I don’t even have the words,” when asked to describe Bellingham’s impact. “It’s a pleasure to play with him.”

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The 4-2 win made sure that Madrid will go through to the Champions League round of 16 as group winners, with five wins out of five so far.

Madrid, who are dealing with an injury crisis which means eight players are currently unavailable to coach Ancelotti, host Granada on Saturday, are top of the LaLiga table.



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