Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has confessed that his future is back up in the air after his side were shockingly eliminated from the Copa del Rey third round at the hands of third-tier side Alcoyano.
Fresh off the back of the elimination from the Spanish Super Cup, Zidane was keen to see a reaction from his team. He went with a second-string side which still featured the likes of Casemiro, Vinicius Junior and Isco, but despite taking the lead in the first half, Real found themselves tied at 1-1 after 90 minutes.
Extra-time was a wild ride. Zidane brought on Toni Kroos, Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio, who joined a team which also featured earlier substitute Karim Benzema, and the tied looked to have turned when Alcoyano’s Ramon Lopez was sent off for his second yellow card.
However, just five minutes after his dismissal, Alcoyano bagged the winning goal to send Real crashing out in the third round – the fifth time they have fallen to a third-tier side since 2001.
“The truth is that we have tried, we had chances to score the second goal and when you fail, these things can happen,” he said (via Marca). “It is a difficult moment, we are out, we had to do something else and we have not done it, but we have tried.
“I think it’s my responsibility as a coach. This is football, you have to make the most of your chances. The ball didn’t want to go in. Well, we’re out.
“When you lose, the media talks. I take full responsibility for the defeat and then whatever happens will happen. I am calm. When we are on the field, what the players want to do is win. Let’s see what happens in the coming days.”
Will Zinedine Zidane be sacked?
The atmosphere in the Spanish press is one of finality. Another headline from Marca claims that this could be the end of Zidane’s time at the club, with two recent cup exits and a sizeable gap behind La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid – four points behind having played two games more – seen as inexcusable. Another said: “If he escapes from this, it’ll be a miracle.”
It’s suggested that Real Madrid are keen to soldier on until the end of the season with Zidane, who does not plan to resign from his position either, but club officials are growing concerned with the atmosphere behind the scenes at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Several players are believed to have lost faith in Zidane, and some club chiefs are concerned that Zidane’s treatment could leave more players begging to leave the club before the season comes to a close.