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Tuesday Kickoff: Benitez in line to replace Ancelotti; Mata, Herrera, Costa left off Spain squad; and more

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By DAN KARELL

It’s been less than a day since Real Madrid sacked Carlo Ancelotti, and the club reportedly already have tabbed a successor.

Ancelotti’s agent Ernesto Bronzetti told RAI Sport in Italy that he is “99 percent certain” that current Napoli manager Rafa Benitez will become the next Real Madrid manager. Benitez. Benitez, a Madrid native, has strong connections to Real Madrid, having played and coached in the club’s academy for many years.

Benitez is currently in his second year in charge of Napoli, but it’s expected that he could leave the post after an up and down season that has Napoli currently in fourth place in Serie A and having won no titles in 2014-2015.

Benitez would fit the profile of the new coach that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has in mind. Perez said in a press conference after announcing the club’s decision to part ways with Ancelotti that Perez would prefer a native Spanish speaker to be the next manager.

Here are some more stories to kick off your Tuesday:

DEL BOSQUE LEAVES OFF EXPERIENCED PLAYERS IN LATEST SPAIN SQUAD

The current iteration of the Spanish National Team may be more noteworthy for the absences as opposed to the players who actually made the squad.

Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque named his 24-player side for a friendly match in Leon against Costa Rica and a UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying match at Belarus, with plenty of regulars in the squad including Iker Casillas, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, David Silva, and Cesc Fabregas.

But the squad also includes plenty of newcomers, such as Sevilla duo Victor “Vitolo” Machin and Aleix Vidal and Celta Vigo forward Manuel “Nolito” Agudo.

At the same time, experienced players such as Manchester United pair Juan Mata and Ander Herrera, as well as Chelsea’s Diego Costa were left off the squad. Bayern Munich’s Thiago was left off the squad due to an injury, according to the AP.

Here’s the Spain squad:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), David De Gea (Manchester United), Sergio Rico (Sevilla)

Defenders: Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid), Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid), Marc Bartra (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos, (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Juan Bernat (Bayern Munich), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid), Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Francisco “Isco” Roman (Real Madrid), David Silva (Manchester City), Victor “Vitolo” Machin (Sevilla), Aleix Vidal (Sevilla)

Forwards: Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Paco Alcacer (Valencia), Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Manuel “Nolito” Agudo (Celta Vigo)

DI MATTEO RESIGNS AS SCHALKE MANAGER

Schalke 04 have a new opening in the managerial department.

The German club announced on Tuesday morning that manager Roberto Di Matteo had resigned after a sixth-place finish in the Bundesliga. Di Matteo struggled in the second half of the season, winning just two of his last ten league matches.

“(Schalke sporting director )Horst Heldt and I didn’t just digest the past seven months, but also directed our attention towards the upcoming season. I demonstrated my plan for a successful future and explained what circumstances I felt were vital for that,” Di Matteo said in a statement. “Although the talks with Horst Heldt were always constructive, it became clear that the club wants to go in a different direction.

“Because of the backlash of the unsatisfactory second half of the season and because I can’t guarantee that, under those conditions, we can achieve the success that the club expects, I felt a new start would be the best thing for all involved, not least for FC Schalke 04, which with its great fans will always have a place in my heart. So I have come to the decision to step down as head coach.”

QUICK KICKS

Former Australian National Team starter John Aloisi has been named the head coach of Brisbane Roar. (REPORT)

Eintracht Frankfurt boss Thomas Schaaf has resigned from his position. (REPORT)

Hamburg playmaker Rafael Van Der Vaart will not be joining Ajax when he leaves HSV at the end of the season. (REPORT)

English Premier League newcomers AFC Bournemouth have agreed to re-sign goalkeeper Artur Boruc to a one-year contract. (REPORT)

Vasco de Gama are set to sign former Club Tijuana forward Duvier Riascos on loan from Cruzeiro. (REPORT)

Santos are negotiating with Robinho and his representatives over extending his stay in Brazil, with his current loan deal set to expire on June 30. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you see Benitez as the next Real Madrid manager? What do you think of the Spain squad? Surprised not to see Mata, Herrera, or Costa in the team?

Share your thoughts below.

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