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Rafa Benitez Assistant at Real Madrid: “We were blamed for playing Casemiro rather than James or Isco”

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Current Hellas Verona manager, Fabio Pecchia, opens up about the dismissal from Real Madrid

Real Madrid CF v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Fabio Pecchia recalled upon his time at Real Madrid while assistant to Rafa Benitez in a recent interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy. The current Hellas Verona manager was open with his assessment, “There was a strange atmosphere in Madrid. When we were dismissed, we were second in La Liga and only two points off Barcelona,” Pecchia said. The team were four points off leaders Atletico Madrid when Rafa Benitez and his backdoom staff were sacked and they were indeed two points off eternal rivals Barcelona.

“Above all else, we were blamed for playing Casemiro rather than James Rodriguez or Isco. Incidentally, that’s exactly what Zidane continued to do later, but as we all know, history is written by the winners.” Rafa and his team were indeed the first to place Casemiro in the team, but when the big games came rolling around they failed to stick to their intuitions and flopped while playing all the glamour signings at once.

Given Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent arrival to Italy, the questions invariably turned towards the Portuguese, “It was incredible to train Real Madrid and Cristiano. They treat each training session like a final. Cristiano is Cristiano. He will transmit his energy to Juventus.” Coach after coach has recognized the quality of this team and the level at which they train. That level transfers on to the pitch and is part of the formula for the unparalleled Champions League success of recent years.