The sacking of Rafa Benitez hardly came as a surprise, especially as he seemed an odd choice to take over at Real Madrid in the first place.
But the decision to install Zinedine Zidane as Benitez’ replacement certainly raised eyebrows.
Zidane, who won the World Cup with France as a player, has just one full season of managerial experience with the Real Madrid reserve side.
He will have to make an immediate impact if Real are to challenge Atletico Madrid and Barcelona for the La Liga title and go deep into the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Here are five Real Madrid players who may benefit from the club’s appointment of Zidane.
James Rodriguez seemed to be made a scapegoat by Benitez towards the end of his reign and the Colombian playmaker often found himself either out of the team or substituted early.
Real’s plethora of attackers mean someone will inevitably have to miss out, but Rodriguez is arguably the best number 10 available to Zidane. Rodriguez was touted as a long-term Galactico successor to Cristiano Ronaldo when he signed for the club, but three goals and four assists represents a disappointing return so far this season.
Zidane will need to get the best out of Rodriguez if Real are to compete for multiple titles.
Karim Benzema’s season has been disrupted by off the field issues, but Zidane’s compatriot has impressively maintained his club form despite the obvious distraction of being suspended from the France national team due to an ongoing legal investigation.
Benzema has scored 12 goals this season and has a WhoScored rating of 7.61 in La Liga. If he can keep firing over the second half of the season, he could yet force his way back into the French national team for this summer’s Euro 2016 tournament, which is of course being held in France.
Like Rodriguez, Toni Kroos has often found himself on the fringes at Real Madrid this season.
When Real lost 1-0 to Villarreal, one of Benitez’s most damaging results, Kroos was an unused substitute. He has been back in the team of late and was exceptional in Real’s 10-2 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano, but Kroos has not scored yet this season.
Zidane became a global great by adding goals to his game and if he can help Kroos to do the same the German midfielder might yet make himself indispensable.
Gareth Bale has looked back to his best at times this season, but the Wales international seems to be at a crossroads in his career.
Rumours of a personality clash with teammate Ronaldo refuse to go away and while Benitez often picked Bale in his preferred central role, Zidane may opt to select him out on the wing instead.
If Bale ends up playing wide more often than not, fantasy players could see his excellent statistics nosedive. Bale has scored nine goals and provided nine assists in La Liga, earning a WhoScored rating of 7.92, marking him out as by far and away Real’s best player this season.
Bale has been linked with a move back to the Premier League and he is a favourite of Real’s president, Florentino Perez, so Zidane needs to keep the 26-year-old content.
Ronaldo’s goalscoring form remains impressive – he’s scored 25 goals and recorded eight assists in all competitions – but the Portuguese looks increasingly disenfranchised at the Bernabeu.
At the age of 30, Ronaldo may only have one big money move left in his career, with Paris Saint-Germain perhaps the most likely destination for the prolific forward, who has long been a must-pick for fantasy players.
Zidane has already shown in his brief managerial career that he is not afraid to drop key players. At Castilla, Real’s B team, Zidane often left out the Danish wonderkid Martin Odegaard.
Should Ronaldo ever be named on the substitutes’ bench by Zidane, expect the rumour mill to go into overdrive. Ronaldo loves to be the central of attention and Zidane might steal his spotlight.