Gareth Bale was an unhappy man last week after Rafa Benitez’s unceremonious sacking by Real Madrid. It had nothing to do with the Welshman’s personal equation with Benitez but rumors that the incoming manager Zinedine Zidane was contemplating the sale of Gareth Bale spread like cancer. By a strange quirk of fate, Bale responded with a hat-trick in his team’s big 5-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna and that was the first game since Zidane took over. With Bale dishing out a man-of-the-match performance, Zidane had to go out of his way to deny rumors that the Welshman had been put on the block and was up for grabs. The sources of rumor are reportedly the passionate text messages that Bale had been marking to Real Madrid owner Florentino Perez with a request that Benitez be allowed more time. Regardless, it still seemed a bit far-fetched to drop someone, who had scored 10 goals in the last 7 league games. Real’s thumping victory has effectively nipped the Bale-sale rumor in the bud after Zinedine Zidane got a dream start to his tenure as Real Madrid manager for the rest of the season.
Rafael Benitez had one of the shortest stints at Real Madrid. He came in only seven months ago as replacement for Carlo Ancelotti, who failed to win any trophy for Real last season. But Benitez attracted heavy criticism for Real’s 0-4 washout against Barca in the El Clasico at Santiago Bernabeu and earned even more disgrace for including the ineligible Denis Cheryshev in 2015-16 Copa Del Ray. That move caused Real’s shock exit from the tournament. Added to that was the fact that the highly rated Real Madrid had only won 17 out of 25 league games this season under Benitez and was placed at third spot in the league table behind Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona. The final nail in the coffin was hammered with Real’s 2-2 draw with the lowly Valencia last Sunday. The Real owners couldn’t wait any longer. In an emergency meeting on Sunday evening, after Real Madrid failed to beat Valencia, owner and President Florentino Perez announced the sacking of Rafa Benitez. Perez also announced that French veteran Zinedine Zidane would serve as new manager for rest of La Liga season. The hard decision cost Real Madrid 10.6 million US dollars.
On Saturday, Zinedine Zidane came to Santiago Bernabeu in the role of Real’s new manager and had a flying start on first day at office as his team responded with an emphatic 5-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna. For Real, Gareth Bale scored a hat-trick and Karim Benzema finished with a brace. Earlier, Bale had put himself in a spot by sending text messages to Perez requesting him to persist with Benitez for some more time and that probably angered Zidane. The incident gave rise to rumors that Bale could be sold this month. In the match, however, Bale played a stellar role and it was Zidane’s turn to fervently deny that there had been no truth to these stories. It all got started with a cute back-heeled flick from Karim Benzema in 15th minute that sailed into the bottom corner. Toni Kroos had taken a corner that was only half-cleared and Sergio Ramos managed to hook the ball to Benzema, who did the rest. Madrid doubled the lead in 23rd minute, when Dani Carvajal sent a pinpoint cross to Gareth Bale, who headed home from 6 yards.
Four minutes into the second half, Madrid made it 3-0, when Ronaldo raced down from the right and sent the ball across the box for Bale. The Welshman was clinical in finish with an immaculate side-foot shooting from 18 yards. That took Bale past 49 goals that Zidane had scored for Real Madrid in his heydays. In the 63rd minute, Bale completed his hat-trick, when Toni Kroos took another corner and the Weleshman produced a perfect header. Though, it was all over for Deportivo, Benzema came up with another goal in injury time, when he shook the net after a rebound from crossbar fell in his path. Watching from the Real box at Santiago Bernabeu, Zidane couldn’t have asked for more in his first game as Real Manager.