Pressure on Real Madrid coach Benitez at scene of former triumphs

Valencia (Spain), Jan 2 (IANS) Real Madrid head coach Rafael Benitez on Sunday comes back to the football ground where he enjoyed some of his greatest triumphs with the aim of saving his current job.

Real Madrid once again are under pressure to win if, according to the Spanish press, Benitez is not to be sacked as first team coach. They have to win in Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium where he led Valencia to two league titles and the UEFA Cup, reports Xinhua.

The Valencia fans have prepared a banner thanking Benitez for those three titles and the Real Madrid tactician will probably feel a bit of envy when he compares that with the boos and whistles he usually receives when his name is announced over the PA system in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Although his side beat Real Sociedad in midweek thanks to some poor refereeing decisions that win did little to answer questions over his side’s recent performances and although Benitez can complain about a press campaign against him and the club, the fact is that the press had nothing to do with Friday’s incident which saw the police chase midfielder James Rodriguez to Madrid’s training ground at 200 kmph.

That incident will only serve to further complicate what many consider to be an already strained relationship between the coach and the talented Colombian international and Rodriguez could well be on the bench with Casimiro replacing him in the starting 11.

Meanwhile Sergio Ramos and Rafael Varene are available to play in defense if needed, while Dani Carvajal is still out injured.

Valencia coach Gary Neville is also under pressure given that his side has failed to win a La Liga game under his direction.

Since replacing Nuno Espiritu Santo, Neville has overseen a Champions League defeat, two draws and a defeat in the league with his only wins being against third tier side, Barakaldo.

Thursday saw Valencia lose to local rivals Villarreal 0-1 and he needs his side to produce a gutsy display on Sunday otherwise the fans, some of whom are skeptical over his appointment at the club, will start to get nervous.

The good news is that he recovers Dani Parejo and Enzo Perez following slight knocks for what is always a tense game.

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