Rafa Benitez sacked as manager of Real Madrid, replaced by Zinedine Zidane

by
Sergio Perez / Reuters

Another managerial grave is being dug at the Santiago Bernabeu.

On Monday, after an emergency meeting was reportedly held to determine his future and to the surprise of absolutely nobody, Rafa Benitez was sacked as manager of Real Madrid.

Replacing Benitez will be none other than Zinedine Zidane, who was promoted from manager of Real Madrid Castilla, the club's B team, and is one of Los Blancos' most legendary players. He tallied 49 goals through 227 appearances while donning the white shirt, capturing a Champions League title and a Copa del Rey crown in the process.

Although Benitez's sacking comes one day after Real Madrid was held to a 2-2 draw at Valencia, the club's problems extend well beyond recent results as well as beyond the Spanish tactician. Since the 2015-16 La Liga season kicked off, Los Blancos failed to sign David De Gea in humiliating fashion, were thrashed in El Clasico, and were kicked out of the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player. There were also reports of a rift between Benitez and players, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Despite the struggles, however, Zidane will be inheriting a club Benitez left sitting third in La Liga and in the Champions League's knockout phase.

"I'm more emotional now than when I signed as a player," Zidane said, joined by his wife and four kids.

Real Madrid's next fixture goes Sunday at Granada.

The Digest

Everything you need to know about Real Madrid's firing of Benitez, hiring of Zidane

by
Javier Barbancho / Reuters

Death, taxes and Real Madrid firing managers.

The Spanish juggernaut, sputtering (by its lofty standards) in La Liga this season, confirmed what has seemed inevitable since the day Rafa Benitez was hired only seven months ago, announcing Monday that the under-fire boss has been sacked, replaced on the touchline by club icon Zinedine Zidane.

Related: Rafa Benitez sacked as manager of Real Madrid, replaced by Zinedine Zidane

The Madrid native, 55, was given his marching orders despite the club finding itself a mere four points off the top of the La Liga table, where city rival Atletico Madrid sits at the summit. Though Los Blancos are well within striking distance for the Spanish title, there was consistent outrage from supporters over the team's uninspiring, defensive style of play under Benitez, along with a series of unfortunate, high-profile gaffes that blighted his tenure; the Copa del Rey debacle, a reported rift with marquee players, and a 4-0 battering at the hands of Barcelona in this season's edition of El Clasico.

And while the timing seems odd - the club is one day removed from earning a 2-2 draw away to Valencia, despite playing with ten men - trigger-happy president Florentino Perez decided the time was right for the seemingly inevitable announcement.

Here's everything you need to know about Real Madrid's decision to cut ties with Benitez, and replace him with Zidane.

REACTION

COACHING CAROUSEL AT THE BERNABEU

LOOKING BACK AT BENITEZ'S ILL-FATED TENURE

ZIDANE TAKES OVER