Madrid - Real Madrid has fired coach Rafael Benitez after just seven months in charge and named former player Zinedine Zidane as his replacement.
Club president Florentino Perez announced the decision at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Monday, a day after Madrid's 2-2 draw at Valencia deepened a crisis that started with an embarrassing 4-0 home loss to rival Barcelona in November.
Madrid won seven of nine matches since that demoralizing defeat but fans continued to demand the departure of Benitez, who famously coached Liverpool to the Champions League trophy in 2005.
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Real Madrid currently sit third in the Spanish league, four points behind leader Atletico Madrid and two behind fierce rivals Barcelona.
French soccer legend Zidane, who was Carlo Ancelotti's assistant in 2014 when Real Madrid won the Champions League, has been coaching Madrid's "B'' team in the Spanish third division.