Rafael Benitez credits self with some of Zinedine Zidane’s first Champions League at Real Madrid

Real Madrid head into their tie against Liverpool on Tuesday night looking to start their assault on their 15th European Cup. An outrageous total, there is little denying they  are the kings of Europe. In the modern era, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane are responsible for much of that, but Rafael Benitez does not feel he gets enough credit.

The former Valencia and Liverpool boss was in charge of Los Blancos for the first half of the 2015-16 season. He would be sacked in early January, with Zidane taking over and going on to lift the trophy – the first of three he won.

Benitez told Marca that he had laid the foundations for that victory though.

“When we left, we were qualified in the Champions League; the exit of the Cup was an administrative error; and in LaLiga we were two points behind Barcelona with one game less than Barca. But then Madrid went 12 points behind after two months.”

“In other words, Madrid took advantage of a team that worked well with us and then in the end, they won the Champions League and it worked. We lacked a centre-forward, who was not signed. In short, my stage there is much better than what people think in terms of the work we did, but logically it was not satisfactory.”

Asked to delve a little deeper on how exactly it was that he had helped to put the building blocks in place, Benitez highlighted their signing record.

“The signings of Casemiro, Kovacic and Lucas Vazquez have clearly been very positive because they gave the team balance. Later, Madrid did not have a centre-forward and I asked for one. Well… it was considered that it was not necessary and when Benzema was not there, he was missed.”

“The team was physically fine and we had the data to prove it. When you leave a team that is doing well… We still have the record of an 8-0 Champions League result against Malmoe; I also have it with Liverpool against Besiktas… In other words, we did something right. We beat Rayo Vallecano 10-2. It wasn’t all that bad, but the elections were coming up and you couldn’t make many mistakes. In addition, Casillas left, Sergio Ramos wanted to leave, Cristiano Ronaldo was not happy… There were many previous problems that we assumed because we were there. In the end, the second half of the season for Real Madrid and for my teams, in general, tends to be good.”

While it is true that Casemiro and Vazquez in particular turned out to stellar additions to Real Madrid, Benitez’s arguments would likely be disputed by others. Those problems did not magically disappear when Zidane arrived, but the Frenchman’s man management helped to negotiate a tricky spell.

Tags Champions League Rafael Benitez Real Madrid Zinedine Zidane
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