Rafael Benítez out as Real Madrid appoints Zidane their new manager

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

On Monday, Spanish football club Real Madrid sacked their manager Rafael Benítez. They appointed Zinedine Zidane as his successor.

File photo of Rafael Benítez in 2015.
Image: Богдан Заяц.

Real Madrid, who failed to win a trophy last season under their Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti, hired former Liverpool manager Benítez as Ancelotti's replacement for the 2015–16 season. Benítez had previously won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool F.C., the UEFA Super Cup with Valencia C.F., and the UEFA Europa League with London-based club Chelsea F.C. However he was heavily criticised after a 4–0 defeat by Barcelona in the El Clásico at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and a shock exit from the 2015–16 Copa del Rey for including an ineligible player in the squad, Russian Denis Cheryshev.

Having won only seventeen out of 25 matches with Los Blancos, Benítez's last match for Real Madrid ended in a 2–2 draw to Valencia in an away match on Sunday; they are third in the La Liga table, four points behind league leaders and local rivals Atlético Madrid.

I'm going to put my heart and soul into this club

—Zinedine Zidane

File photo of Zinedine Zidane in 2008.
Image: Raphaël Labbé.

Zinedine Zidane is a former Real Madrid legend and coach of Real's reserve team, Real Madrid Castilla. Real's president Florentino Pérez appointed the Frenchman and said Zidane "knows better than anyone just what it means to lead the Real Madrid first-team squad."

Real Madrid has had eleven managers in the twelve years that Pérez has been president. Zidane, expressing his gratitude to Pérez, said "I'm going to put my heart and soul into this club".

Zidane was assistant manager to Ancelotti when Real Madrid won their tenth European Championship. Back in 2001, Real Madrid paid Turin-based club Juventus F.C. the equivalent of £45.8 million to sign Zidane. Pérez said to Zidane, "This is your stadium and your club and you have all our confidence and trust to make the fans excited once more. It makes me proud because I know that for you the word impossible does not exist."

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