Real Madrid: Rafa Benitez sacked as manager; Zidane takes over - Sports Illustrated

Real Madrid sacks manager Rafa Benitez; Zinedine Zidane takes over

Zinedine Zidane, club legend and currently coach of Real Madrid Castilla, will reportedly take over in his stead.
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Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez has been sacked club president Florentino Perez announced on Monday.

Former club legend Zinedine Zidane, currently the coach of Real Madrid's reserve team, will take over in his place.

Benitez signed a three-year contract in June, but French sports daily L’Équipe reported that Benitez had lost support from the team’s higher-ups after the losses and blunders. They had reportedly grown weary of the big-budget team struggling, though Perez had publicly supported Benitez this season.

On Dec. 2, Benitez chose to start Denis Cheryshev in a Copa del Rey match against Cadiz despite the player being ineligible, leading to Real Madrid’s disqualification from the tournament.

Benitez previously coached Liverpool from 2004 to ‘10, winning the Champions League in 2005. He also led Valencia to two La Liga titles, a UEFA Cup championship in 2004 and Europa League title two years ago at Chelsea. He arrived in Madrid after coaching Napoli to a fifth place finish in Serie A.

Real Madrid is currently in third place in La Liga. The club’s match against Valencia ended in a 2–2 draw Sunday.