Former Chelsea and Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has been appointed as new Real Madrid manager days after the club decided to part ways with Carlo Ancelotti.
The prestigious Italian boss was sacked by president Florentino Perez after a season without silverware despite having the support of both the supporters and the dressing room following his success in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey in his debut season at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The lack of titles, rotations, balance, and specially his "soft" character have been tipped as the main reasons behind Perez's decision.
Benitez has now been appointed to solve those issues and rebuild the Champions League 2013-2014 winners in what will surely be the biggest challenge of his career.
IBTimes UK analyses his five biggest challenges at the Bernabeu if he doesn't want to wind up with the same fate as Ancelotti.
1. Winning titles
At Real Madrid winning is a must. The bench at the Santiago Bernabeu is the most demanding in the world, especially since Florentino Perez is president. The proof is that during his two spells in charge of Los Blancos, from 2000 to 2006 and from 2009 until now, he has had 10 different coaches.
Vicente del Bosque who won two Champions League titles, and Jose Mourinho managed to keep their jobs across three seasons, but most of them, like former Manchester United manager Carlos Queiroz and current City boss Manuel Pellegrini, barely lasted one season after being unable to clinch a trophy.
2. Stopping a new Barcelona golden era
The ferocious rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona means that the success of the enemy is their own failure, and vice versa. Winning is as important for Benitez as getting Barcelona to lose. This theory explained the unconditional love of Florentino Perez for Mourinho during his time in La Liga. The current Chelsea boss won a League and Cup during his three seasons in the Bernabeu, but enjoyed the support of the president because he managed to put an end to the best Barcelona of all time created by Guardiola.
Benitez will have to win titles for Madrid but also prevent Barcelona from beginning a new golden era, and further close the gap with Los Blancos in Champions League triumphs. The Catalans opt to win their fifth trophy against Juventus on Saturday while Real Madrid have 10 in their bag, but six of them were achieved before the seventies.
3. Handling Galacticos egos without forgetting the rotations
The lack of rotations under Ancelotti led the team to a tragic end of season despite starting the campaign in great shape. The Italian chose to have their 'galactics' happy rather than sitting them on the bench. The BBC (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano) was "non-negotiable" in his line-ups and the same happened with other players like Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and James Rodriguez, who finished the season exhausted and even injured due to the number of minutes played.
Benitez has proven during his long and successful career to know how to handle the rotations. The question is whether he will dare to bench Ronaldo and co. as he used to at Valencia, Liverpool, Napoli, and Chelsea.
4. Restore the balance amid the 4-3-3 and the BBC dilemma
Ancelotti got a balanced team in his first season in charge by deploying Xabi Alonso, Angel Di Maria (as a box to box) and Modric behind the BBC. However, Perez's decision to replace Di Maria and Alonso with Kroos and Rodriguez gave more talent to the line-up but also less balance.
Kroos has never been a holder and probably never will be. The result was bad both for himself and also for the BBC who were forced to help in defence while they were signed in first place to score goals.
Benitez will need to find his new Mascherano or Alonso at Real Madrid to restore the balance of the team without losing lustre up-front - and deciding whether to keep the BBC.
5. Take the best out of Bale and decide Ronaldo's future role
Even though Bale scored crucial goals in his first season at Real Madrid, the truth is that he has always been a shadow of the player he was at Tottenham. He has failed to conquer the supporters but especially has struggled to adapt to life alongside Ronaldo.
Bale is guilty in the situation to some degree but he is not the only one to blame. He was the main man at Spurs, playing on the left side with freedom, being only worried about himself and scoring goals. However, with Ronaldo leading Real Madrid he has been relegated to a secondary role – if not third – at the Bernabeu, playing out his position and even urging to defence.
Benitez may consider that with Ronaldo facing a fade of form due to his 30-years of age, it is the right time to deploy him up-front while restoring Bale to his Tottenham role. The problem in this case is to find space for Benzema, but the boss may wonder himself whether the 15 La Liga goals scored by the French star this season are enough to fight against Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
Furthermore this will also provide Benitez the chance to use a deeper midfield to balance the team while giving James Rodriguez more freedom to attack.