Monday 19 February 2018

Real Madrid lost just three games during Rafa Benitez's tenure - so what did he do wrong?

Rafael Benitez has been sacked
Rafael Benitez has been sacked

Simon Rice

Rafa Benitez has been dismissed as manager of Real Madrid - so what did he do wrong?

During his 25 game reign there were tears, a 10-2 scoreline, suspension from a cup competition and an horrendous drubbing at the hands of great rivals Barcelona - but overall the former Liverpool manager's statistics were strong.

Following a tearful unveiling as the club's new manager, Benitez got to work, managing to win 17 of the 25 games for which he was in charge - a win percentage of 68 per cent. To put that in context, the club had a win percentage of 73 per cent last season when they finished two points behind champions Barcelona, and 79 per cent the last time they won the title.

The highlight of those wins was undoubtedly the incredible 10-2 La Liga victory over Rayo Vallecano, a game that saw Gareth Bale score four goals, Cristiano Ronaldo two and Karim Benzema bag a hat-trick. That result came just 16 days ago.

There was just three defeats during Benitez's reign that included a 3-2 away loss against Sevilla and 1-0 loss away to Villarreal. But the one that will be remembered was the 4-0 home defeat to Barcelona. A Luis Suarez brace plus goals from Neymar and Andres Iniesta humiliated Real Madrid on their own turf. It was only the second time Barcelona had beaten Real Madrid at the Bernabeu by such a scoreline and a result that put doubt in the minds of fans, and it would now seem the club's hierarchy, that Benitez was the man for the job.

Another blot on the former Liverpool manager's tenure was the club's suspension from the Copa del Rey - inflicted after the club brought on an ineligible player during their 3-1 win over Cadiz. The club are currently appealing the decision to Spain's regular law courts having seen the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismiss their pleas. Denis Cheryshev, the ineligible player in question, was embarrassingly substituted during the match when Real Madrid realised their error.

His final match in charge was against Gary Neville's Valencia side - a match that ended 2-2 despite Real Madrid's opponents being reduced to 10-men for the last 22 minutes of the match.

Benitez leaves the Bernabeu with the club third in La Liga, four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid and half that amount behind Barcelona. Meanwhile the club are in the knock-out stages of the Champions League having won five and drawn one of their tricky group games against PSG, Shaktar Donetsk and Malmo. They play Roma in the last 16 - but not with Benitez in charge.

Independent News Service

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