Zidane replaces Benitez at Real Madrid

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Zinedine Zidane

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The short reign of Rafael Benitez as coach of Real Madrid came to an abrupt end on 3rd January as he was replaced by Zinedine Zidane.

The change comes with the Spanish giants trailing leaders Atletico Madrid by four points after 18 games. They are through to the knockout phase of the Champions League where they face a clash with Roma in the last sixteen. They are already out of the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player in their 3-1 victory at Cadiz.

Although Zidane lacks experience at coaching level, he has been in charge of Real?s B team since 2014 and was also a member of Carlo Ancelotti?s backroom staff in 2013-14. He is already a legend at the club for his time as a player after being signed for a record fee of £48.5 million in 2001. The 43-year-old won the World Cup as a player with France and replaces Benitez after just 25 games in charge.

There has been growing speculation about the future of Benitez in a recent weeks and a 2-2 draw at Valencia was not sufficient for him to keep his job. With eleven wins from eighteen league games, his reign was not exactly disastrous but it illustrates the high expectations at Europe?s top clubs.

Jose Mourinho had been linked with a possible return to Real after being sacked by Chelsea last month. He led Real to the title in 2012 but is yet to bring the Champions League trophy to the Bernabeu. Mourinho remains in the running for a possible switch to Manchester United with fans dissatisfied with the lack of attacking play since Louis Van Gaal took over.

Rafael Benitez was unable to win the affection of the Chelsea supporters during his short spell at Stamford Bridge despite winning the Europa League. He is still respected at Liverpool and Valencia but his reputation has taken a knock by recent spells at Napoli and now at Real Madrid. Napoli failed to qualify for the Champions League despite splashing out on the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Dries Mertens.

Zidane has pledged to do everything he can to ensure that Real win a trophy this season. There were reports that Benitez was struggling with the man-management of some of the club?s high profile players. Zidane?s first game in charge is against Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday.

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