Zidane takes over at Real MadridComments
Rafael Benitez has been sacked by Real Madrid after just seven months in charge. He will be replaced by club hero Zinedine Zidane.
The 55-year old was fired by the ten-times European champions following a roller coaster start to the La Liga season that has left them third – four points off leaders and city rivals Atletico.
Benitez was given his marching orders just seven months into a three-year contract at the Bernabéu.
As well as the board the Former Liverpool manager failed to win over Madrid’s notoriously unforgiving fans – especially with the side unable to win any of their big away games this season with Villarreal, Sevilla and Barcelona all beating them and Atletico Madrid, Valencia and PSG in the Champions League all taking a point.
Real were also booted out of the Copa Del Rey this season following an administrative gaffe that led to the club fielding an ineligible player.
His final game in charge was a 2-2 draw at his former club Valencia – where Gary Neville is now manager and where Benitez is still highly regarded having steered them to two La Liga titles and the Uefa Cup in 2004.
Club legend Zinedine Zidane will take over the reins at Real until the end of the season.
The Former France international has been coaching Real Madrid’s B team since 2014.
United keep faith in Van Gaal, for now
When Manchester United beat Swansea on Saturday for the side’s first win in eight games coach Louis Van Gaal cut a relieved figure to say the least.
Having Wayne Rooney end his goal drought was also something to celebrate.
Although speculation surrounding the Dutchman’s future at Old Trafford is unlikely to go away just yet, the win has lifted some of the pressure he was under following a dire run of results.
The rumour mills had hit overdrive concerning Van Gaal’s position at the 20-times English champions, but despite the rumours and the results the 64-year-old remains at the helm and he says he has the backing of the board and the dressing room.
Will it last though? Only time will tell.
Up and down
Now for this week’s up and down list.
On the up are English Premier League title hopefuls Arsenal.
Following their one nil win over Newcastle at the weekend and Leicester’s goalless stalemate with Bournemouth, Arsene Wenger’s men are sole owners of the top of the table as they hunt a first title since 2004.
Joining the Gunners on the up are Spanish La Liga title contenders Atletico de Madrid.
Thomas Partey scored his first La Liga goal to hand Atletico a one nil win over Levante.
A result that put the club top of the Liga, with 41 pointstwo clear of Barcelona who have a game in hand.
On the down – and he got their very quickly – is Real Madrid’s Colombian superstar James Rodríguez who failed to stop for police when he was clocked at driving over 200 kilometres an hour en route to his club’s training base.
He was fined 30 thousand euros and lost his licence for a year.
Road to Euro
On our road to the next European Championships, we stop off for a look at Euro 1984.
Spain, finalist in that edition, were close to missing out on the final stage of the tournament. But in a match, described by many people as one of the most important in the nation’s history, Spain managed to produce the goods and lots of it.
On 21 December 1983, Spain played Malta in the last qualifying match for UEFA Euro 1984.
In the group Spain had 2 points less than the Netherlands, with an inferior goal difference of 11.
To qualify the team needed to beat Malta by at least 11 goals. In Seville, Spain thrilled the home crowd by winning 12-1.
We might be wrong
Now you have our predictions for some selected matches for next weekend. Last year we didn’t get many right, we hope to do a little better this year. Have a go yourselves across social media using , #TheCornerScores.
Celta Vigo 0-1 Atlético de Madrid
Real Madrid 3-0 Deportivo
Sporting 1-1 Braga
We end this first episode of 2016, with a multilingual best wishes from a few of the Bundesliga’s top stars, who are enjoying their lengthy winter break. German football returns on the 22nd of January. (See video above)