After what seemed like an eternity to most fans, Real Madrid has sacked Rafa Benitez after just seven months in charge. Benitez will likely be replaced by French soccer legend and current Real Madrid Castilla manager Zinedine Zidane.
BREAKING: Real Madrid fires head coach Rafa Benitez after holding a meeting over his future. (via multiple reports) pic.twitter.com/W64z4uZyES
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 4, 2016
Taking over Real Madrid this past summer for Carlo Ancelotti, Benitez took Real Madrid to a 17-5-3 record as well as a UEFA Champions League group stage win. But despite only losing three games and a +47 goal differential in all competitions, Benitez’s reign at Real will mostly be remembered for having to forfeit their Copa del Rey round of 32 game against third division side Cadiz after Benitez accidentally played an ineligible player.
Benitez also lost favor with fans after a rather embarrassing 4-0 loss to Barcelona in the first El Clasico of the season at the Bernabeu about three weeks before the Cadiz game. Real Madrid currently sits third in La Liga, two points behind Barcelona and four behind Atletico Madrid, which to most fans is unacceptable.
But despite what seemed like everyone in Madrid wanting Benitez out, Benitez had the support of the only person who mattered, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez. Perez publicly supported Benitez until what seemed like the bitter end. That bitter end apparently came when Real drew Valencia 2-2 this past weekend after missing out on a prime opportunity to gain points on Barcelona after they drew to Espanyol.
Now, in comes Zinedine Zidane to try and turn this around. Zidane has proved it on the field as a player but this will be his first time managing a top level team. Zidane was a legend at Real Madrid and despite his headbutt to end his playing career at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final, Zidane has proven himself as an assistant manager for Real Madrid as well as managing the Real reserve team since 2014.
Zidane will no doubt have the support of the fans given his past as well as someone who the players who will most likely appreciate more than Benitez. Also, it’s not as if Zidane is taking over a team in need of a rebuilding. With players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez, Real Madrid is still in a prime position to win. They may not be as dominant in previous years as much as their fans want, but they are still a Champions League favorite and are four points out of the La Liga title.
For Real Madrid, if they wanted to start on a clean sheet and give Zidane a shot at managing the team, this is the best time to do that. It’s a gamble to bring in someone without a lot of experience, but it could be the key to get Real Madrid another La Liga or Champions League title this season.