Rafa returns to Real as Benitez is named Madrid manager


La Liga giants Real Madrid have announced former Liverpool and Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez as their new head coach on a three-year deal, to replace Carlo Ancelotti in the dugout following a campaign that came and went without major trophies.

While the Italian was largely a success during his two-season spell in charge of Los Blancos, claiming the Champions League and Copa del Rey in 2013/14, he could not capture La Liga title. He did win the less prestigious Club World Cup and Super Cup earlier this season, though.

In becoming Los Blancos boss on a three-year deal, Benitez becomes the first Spaniard to take the hotseat since Juande Ramos in 2008/09 and first born in Madrid since Mariano Garcia Remon just over a decade ago. The former Anfield boss is aware of the daunting challenge ahead of him at the Bernabeu, but is confident he can recapture silverware success in the Spanish capital.

“The team must be competitive, capable of reaching the end of the season with chance to win trophies,” Benitez said.

“The Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey are our objectives, as Madrid must win each game. Can we win it, sometimes yes, sometimes no, as this is football. But the idea is to try and win from the first game, that is what I inherited here, regardless of the competition.”

The 55-year-old has tasted success at almost every club he has been in charge of, starting at Real Madrid’s youth teams, after spending most of his playing career for their Castilla team, when he won the league and cup with the Under-19s.

From there, Benitez gained promotion to the Spanish top-flight with Extremadura and Tenerife, before taking over at Valencia, where he led them to their first La Liga title in 31 years in his first season. He then went on to win the league again two terms later, as well as the UEFA Cup, which resulted in Liverpool bringing him to the Premier League.

It was in England that Benitez really made his name globally, as he remarkably guided the Reds to their fifth Champions League crown in the famous 2005 comeback final against AC Milan, before winning the FA Cup the following season.

Reasonable success with Inter Milan, Chelsea, where he won the Europa League in 2013, and most recently Napoli then followed.

Real Madrid Castilla boss and club legend Zinedine Zidane was previously linked with the job, but will instead carry on his role and coaching experience.

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