Zinedine Zidane Set To Replace Rafael Benitez As Real Madrid Manager

Zinedine Zidane, famed French soccer player, is set to replace Rafael Benitez as manager at Real Madrid, Deadspin reports. Rumors have been swirling for a while now that Benitez, aka Rafa, would be replaced.

According to Marca, the move to officially replace Rafa with Zidane will be announced later today by the club. The decision comes after a series of disappointing results for Madrid. The club was beaten by one of its main rivals, Barcelona FC, in November of last year. They lost 0-4. It was a humiliating defeat for one of the most legendary teams in the world. They also got themselves disqualified from last year’s Copa del Rey because they started a suspended player in their match against Cadiz, Deadspin reports. They also haven’t won any of their big away games this season.

But it looks like their latest draw against Valencia is that final straw that has Real Madrid scrambling for solutions.

At the post-game press conference, when asked if he thought the draw could cost him his job, Benitez said, “That’s only if we look at the result. This performance deserves more praise than criticism.”

As Deadspin reports, rumors about Benitez’s future at the club went into high gear this week when the Spanish media reported that Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez called an emergency meeting with the club’s top brass to determine the way forward for the team.

As the Daily Mail reports, Rafael Benitez had only been the Real Madrid club manager for seven months. But it’s obvious that the directors at the club have not been pleased with his performance thus far. According to the Daily Mail, at this point in time, the Zidane appointment is an experiment. He will step up from managing the B-team to the first team until the end of the season. At that point, Zidane’s performance will be appraised, and they will make a decision as to whether he should continue as club manager. Former Chelsea FC manager Jose Mourinho is reportedly a favorite for the job if Zidane fails to help the team get back on track.

Benitez’s short stint as club manager has been marred by his unpopularity amongst the fans and players at Real Madrid. He has been booed by Madrid fans more than once this season, and there are reports that high-profile players like Cristiano Ronaldo have not been responding well to his coaching methods at all. Based on the article by the Daily Mail, most of the criticism surrounds Benitez’s tendency to favor a more defensive style of play.

Zinedine Zidane, nicknamed “Zizou” by his fans, is widely considered to be one of soccer’s all-time greatest players. He led France to World Cup victory in 1998 and signed to Real Madrid in 2001 for a record-breaking transfer fee of $66 million, according to Biography.com. But it was worth it. During Zidane’s first year with the team, they won the coveted UEFA Championship trophy and won La Liga, the Spanish soccer championship, the following year.

During the 2006 World Cup, everyone expected that the famed French player’s international career would end in spectacular fashion when France played Italy in the final. It did, but not in the way everyone had hoped. Zidane head-butted Italian player Marco Materazzi in the chest and was expelled from the game. France later lost the game on penalty kicks.

In recent years, Zidane has become deeply involved in the Real Madrid organization and manages the side’s B-Team. Madrid’s upcoming game against Deportivo La Coruña will be his first game managing a senior club team.

[Photo by Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images]