Sergio Ramos has suggested Real Madrid was a superior force under Carlo Ancelotti in 2014, despite winning the Champions League last season and leading LaLiga under Zinedine Zidane.
Ancelotti took Madrid to its long-awaited tenth European Cup triumph in May 2014, before capturing the Club World Cup seven months later.
The Italian left the club after failing to win a trophy in 2014-15, with his successor Rafael Benitez then sacked in January.
Former Madrid star Zidane, who had served as Ancelotti's assistant, was promoted from his role with the 'Castilla' reserve side and promptly led the senior team to more continental glory in May, orchestrating a penalty-shootout triumph over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final at San Siro.
That victory has afforded Madrid, which holds a six-point leader over title-holder Barcelona in LaLiga, another opportunity to be crowned Club World Cup winners.
Speaking to FIFA's website as Madrid prepares to open its campaign against Club America in Yokohama on Thursday, Ramos hinted the team of 2013-14, which contained the now-departed Sami Khedira, Angel Di Maria and Iker Casillas, may have been a marginally better outfit.
"Every season is very intense but I think that one, with Carlo Ancelotti at the helm, was very consistent," he said, when asked to rank the 2014 and 2016 sides.
"I think we played truly excellent football and we maintained our rhythm."
Nevertheless, the experienced defender believes Madrid are also performing strongly under Zidane, as they seek to win LaLiga for the first time since 2012.
"We're doing a good job," he said.
"The structure and the core of the squad is the same, and that's healthy for the team. We've got a better understanding with each other, and we're on the same wavelength on the pitch too. The team's reaping the benefits of that. We've got a good mix of veteran and young players.
"We want a happy ending to what's been a good year for us. Being in Japan is a prize for us and we want to take the final reward with us."
- MotoGP Indian Grand Prix: Martin wins Sprint Race after pole-sitter Bezzecchi collides with teammate
- Rwanda women’s football coach suspended for saying Ghanaian rivals were ‘like men’
- India vs Chinese Taipei LIVE streaming info: When and where to watch Indian women’s football match?
- ISL 2023-24: Mohun Bagan Super Giant begins title defence in style with 3-1 win against Punjab FC
- Man City beats Nottingham Forest 2-0 despite Rodri red card